The Albury-Wodonga Spitfires coughed up an early lead to suffer a first round loss to ANU in Canberra on Saturday.
Shayne Newell's return as coach didn't go to script as the university outfit recovered after it conceded an early goal to win 2-1.
Rising star Kurt Beath put the Border side ahead at the 11-minute mark with a nice finish from the top of the circle, but ANU got back on level terms with a field goal in the second quarter to make it 1-1 at half-time.
The hosts hit the front late in the third quarter with another field goal and the Spitfires were unable to respond, despite leading the penalty corner count, 2-1.
Ben Allen, Noah Erdeljac, Dom Wild and Jeremy Payne were the Spitfires' standout performers.
ALSO IN SPORT:
The result was unfortunate, but not from lack of a opportunities, especially in the last quarter. This will be a focus at training to ensure we make good decisions in the attacking circle.- Spitfires coach Shayne Newell
"We discussed the importance of patience, possession and positive play throughout game. The team played well with some good passages of play in passing and movement off the ball throughout the game," Newell said.
"Other times we were left too far apart allowing attacking opportunities for ANU through the midfield.
"The result was unfortunate, but not from lack of a opportunities, especially in the last quarter.
"This will be a focus at training to ensure we make good decisions in the attacking circle."
Newell also paid tribute to the younger players who travelled with the team.
"Even though not much or any game time was achieved, this is still an important part of team building, learning and representing Hockey Albury-Wodonga in one of the top leagues of the game," Newell added.
Meanwhile, in round one of Hockey Albury-Wodonga's division one men league, defending premiers Norths scored a hard-fought 1-0 win against Magpies, while Wodonga downed Falcons, 4-1.
In the women's matches, Magpies and Norths played out an entertaining 3-3 draw, while Wodonga pipped 2019 champions Falcons, 2-1.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.