Park Ave young guns bring A-game
HOCKEY: Inexperienced players and stifling conditions were not enough to stop Park Avenue's A-grade men in Saturday's season opener.
The team, a combined squad of both A1 and A2 players, took to the turf in a tense standoff against Southern Suburbs at the Rockhampton Hockey Association grounds.
Coach of Park Avenue, Robert Sweeney, described the game as challenging, adding the team's new younger line-up brought with it some teething issues - even after yesterday's 2-1 win.
"The first hit was in very hot conditions, we also had quite a few young guys fronting up. A lot of our A2 players were backing us up today so all in all I was very pleased with the efforts today," he said.
"Generally we've been on the end of some hidings, so that's really boosted the guys' confidence to start the season off well."
He said ball control was the side's main focus for the game and would likely continue to be a practised skill throughout the 2020 season.
"Our ball work was pretty good today; I'd probably give the boys about a 75 per cent rating on that.
"We also delivered some good scrambling in defence."
Southern Suburbs tallied a giveaway of around 15 penalty corners in the hard-fought battle, while Park Avenue delivered only two to the opposition.
Junior goalkeeper Colby Cross, 17, delivered an outstanding performance, Sweeney said, also giving special mention to Cooper McKenzie for a stellar first-ever game.
"Colby had really good repeated savers on a corner battery that South peppered us with. He kept us in the game I believe."
While the team may lack in its more experienced players, Sweeney holds high hopes for the upcoming season throughout their rebuilding stage.
"We're obviously a bit short on numbers, we're using our juniors.
"We've bought them up earlier than what we expected to, but they're absolutely stepping up and they'll be supported by our senior players."
As for what comes next, the squad is said to be taking it one game at a time.
"We're building the season slowly; we're not going too hard too early," he said.
"The boys are really happy that we got a result in our favour.
"We'll take this one on and move on and look forward to a good training on Wednesday and come back and look to deliver the same result."