Wow! We're just back in from the Ladies' Finals - and I can truly say that it is the closest game of hockey I have ever played. We were 2-1 down at half time, with excellent play from both teams. We came out of half time with a bang - two goals in quick succession (one from a penalty stroke) got us 3-2 up. Then, with 10 minutes to go, they scored from a penalty corner. The ball was flying up and down the pitch as the minutes ticked away; every time it got up the opposition's end, I was longing for a last minute goal, then as soon as it started coming back our way, I was determined not to let one through. Then full time whistle blew.
For the Finals, it couldn't just end on a draw, so each team had to take two players off the pitch, and we had another six minutes of play, with the 'Golden Goal' rules (i.e. first team to score, wins). We kept on pushing, with a couple of really close misses, but at the end of the six minutes, it was still a draw. So, another two players each off the pitch, and another six minutes of play. Still no goal.
Then, the moment I'd been dreading; penalty strokes. Each team picks five players to go alternately against the goalie. No pressure at all, then! The walk into the goal each time was the longest of my life - I could hear the supporters cheering from the sidelines, but could only concentrate on the little white ball sat on the penalty spot. And I let the first one in... (I moved in the right direction, which was small consolation) We'd missed our first shot, so now we were 1-0 down. Our second shot went in, their second shot went wide. Our third shot went straight to the keeper's pads, their third shot was lifted into the left corner - somehow - I'm still not sure how - I got my hand to it and knocked it clear. Our fourth shot went in, their fourth shot pinged off of the post. Our fifth shot went wide. So - 2-1 up on the penalties - now down to the last stroke... And it went wide!
So - Upper Hutt Ladies are champions of our grade, and, more than that, we go up the grade into the Premier League next season. A fantastic end to a wonderful season of hockey. I think our supporters would have appreciated it not being quite so wearing on the nails!