Hockey | Best still ahead of Strikers, Spitfires

THE Strikers and Spitfires head to Canberra for the last of the Capital League home-and-away matches.

Both are out of contention but their coaches believe they will be competitive in the future.

Hockey Albury Wodonga’s first year in the national capital will finish with the women sixth, the men second last.

But coaches Tony Jones and Matt Smart say the lessons have been invaluable.

The Strikers will be without Nan Latta but will add Sadie Butler, direct from her British wedding and honeymoon.

Eloise McCormick, 18, will be the senior player in a teenage forward line.

“We certainly needed this year to get used to the level and the style of hockey — it is more physical than we were used to in the Victorian state league,” Jones said.

“We need to keep blooding juniors and maybe not next year but the one after, I believe we will be competitive.”

Jones, who won the Victorian state league 1 with the Strikers last year, will step down after today.

“Our backline has been good all year — Sam Campbell, Rhianna Coleiro, Sadie Butler, Sam Daly and Chloe Jones while Kate Mason has been the best forward,” he said.

“But Coleiro is the standout — she had been out of state league for sometime but jumped straight back in and commanded a starting position from week one.”

Smart heads to Canberra to play top-of-the-table Central at 5pm.

He said a solid pre-season and a deeper squad would help.

“We weren’t that far off the mark — our good was competitive, our bad very bad,” he said.

“But we never really had the same starting 11.

“If we can be fit and ready to go from the start of the season we will benefit from this year’s experience.

“We have the talent to be among the top five.

“But the upshot is, some of the development boys have come a long way.

“Of the established players, our best has been Hugh Cullen, Andrew Wilkes, Josh McVean and Ben Allen, while Charley Wallace has developed more than any other player in the squad.”