Pride, passion fuel Emmaus team's win at All Schools
HOCKEY: The Emmaus College boys lost just one of 12 games on their way to being crowned the 2018 Queensland All Schools hockey champions.
Emmuas won the grand final two-nil against Townsville's Ignatius Park, the only team that beat them in the round games at the two-day carnival in Toowoomba.
Coach Karen Gardner was understandably proud of the team's performance and excited for the players.
The win was even more remarkable given that four team members - Cooper Johnson, Clayton Evans, Regan Weatherhead and Lachlan Plant - were at the same time representing Rockhampton at the Queensland under-18 indoor hockey championships.
This is the third year that Emmaus has been to the carnival, and they have got progressively better with each appearance.
"In the first year, we finished on top of Division 2. Last year we only lost one game, the semi-final, and came third and this year we went all the way and won the title,” Gardner said.
"We've pretty much had the same group over those three years and it's been great watching them develop.
"A lot of the boys are rep players and have played at numerous carnivals but they really love the opportunity to play for their school.
"I just love the passion and the pride they have in playing for Emmaus.”
Gardner, the sister of Kookaburras' champion Mark Knowles, said Emmaus's gutsy one-nil win in their fourth round game was one of the most memorable of the carnival.
"We played without the four rep players in that game. We needed to come top three in our pool and we were equal third at that point so to get the win was really important,” she said.
"To see the rest of the boys step up without any subs and get a win under pressure was really good.”
Gardner said goalkeeper Colby Cross starred in the team's one-nil semi-final win over St Mary's (Toowoomba), and captain Cooper Johnson was a deserved recipient of the Player of the Final award.
"We changed our structure in the grand final a little bit to counter the Ignatius Park midfield and restrict ball to their strike forward, who was the highest goalscorer of the competition,” she said.
"We scored fairly early but they put us under some pressure late in the first half.
"In the second half, we took control of the midfield and had most of the attack so it was pretty comfortable in the end.
"The boys executed the game plan to perfection and did what they had to do to achieve a great result.”