Following their victory in a tight shoot-out against Central on Saturday night, the Goulburn Geckos will proceed to the preliminary final next weekend against Old Canberrans’ Hockey Club (OCHC).
The Geckos were confident leading into Saturday’s encounter, as their last match of the season was also against Central and resulted in a 2-6 victory.
This time around, Geckos coach Todd Devlin knew that Central would change up their game plan, and his side adjusted accordingly.
“We spoke about them and we knew they were gonna change a few things, which they did,” Devlin said. “They changed a few tactical things and we had to adapt to that, and we did a few things slightly different too.
“We knew it was gonna be a bit of a different game to the last time we played them, because both teams were able to see each other and work out a few changes.”
Devlin added that the Geckos were unable to capitalise on several opportunities that might have given them a comfortable lead, while Central took advantage of the few lapses in defence offered by Goulburn.
It was, from start to finish, a match that hinged on the quality of Goulburn’s play, and the side was lucky to have emerged victorious from the penalty shootout that followed the 3-3 final score.
The match, although tightly contested, was useful to the Geckos in several regards.
Primarily, it served as an opportunity to shake loose any rust from their bye the week prior.
The Geckos have a bye in the last round of every season, as it clashes with the local hockey finals. As Goulburn knew they would be playing either OCHC or Wests this weekend, the match against Central was crucial in ensuring that all players were fit and firing.
Similarly, it allowed the Geckos to gauge where they need to improve for their preliminary final match, which will take place against OCHC, who defeated Wests in a penalty shootout following another 3-3 scoreline.
“Defence’ll be key against [OCHC],” Devlin said.
“They’re quite strong on their penalty corners so we’ll have to have a big defensive focus not to be giving away corners and to limit their opportunities.”
Although OCHC finished at the top of the table, a full-strength Geckos side defeated them 6-2 in round eight.
OCHC since defeated the Geckos in round 19, that Goulburn side was significantly under-strength and has since been strengthened by the return of several key players.
At the time of writing, the details of this weekend’s preliminary final between the Geckos and OCHC has not been confirmed.