COOL UNDER PRESSURE: St Pat’s striker Jaden Ekert scored the winning goal for NSW Country in their Australian Country Hockey Championships gold medal match against Victoria. It came down to a penalty shoot-out to separate the rivals. Photo: PHILL MURRAY 061315ppats5ST Pat’s striker Jaden Ekert has scored more goals in his hockey career than he would care to count, but few shots havecarried the pressure that he was under on Saturday in the final of the Australian Country Hockey Championships in Wollongong.
Ekert was the man who scored thepenalty which gave NSW Country the national title over Victoria, his successful attempt making it 4-2.
Having progressed through the pool games undefeated, and then dispatched Western Australia 3-2 in the semi-final, NSW Country went into the decider full of confidence.
The NSW side, which also included Bathurst’s Luke Thorncraft and Dylan Smith, had beaten Victoria 3-1 in the pool game and held the title of defending champions.
After 60 minutes of regulation time, however, neither side had scored.
“It was nil-all at full-time. We should have won it in normal time, but it is what it is. We went straight into a shoot-out, straight into pressure,” Ekert said.
Both teams missed their first attempt in the shoot-out and by the time Ekert stepped up to the mark, NSW Country were leading 3-2.
The equation for him was simple – score and his side wins, miss and it gives Victoria the chance to steal the gold medal.
“Mine was to win it, to win us the cup,” Ekert said.
“It was one-on-one style. I dragged to the left, jinked right and then flicked it around him [the Victorian goalkeeper]. I had a plan before I started and I wasn’t going to change it. I had a good idea of what I wanted to do.
“It was a pretty awesome feeling to score. The whole week came down to that, so it was pretty special.
“We went through the whole week undefeated, we didn’t drop a game. That’s three in a row now for NSW.”
Ekert has been involved with two of those title wins and this year finished as the third-leading scorer at the tournament with six goals.
As well as enjoying success as a player, Ekert found satisfaction on another front as he was also the NSW Country assistant coach.
“I think at the start of the week I was more, I guess, concentrating on coaching than playing,” he said.
“But then halfway through the week my focus switched to playing after we had a couple of injuries. I think it worked well that way.”
Thorncraft had a bonus from the tournament as well as he was later named in the Australian Country under 21s men side.
“Lukey, he played really well as an inside forward for NSW,” Ekert said.
“He had played a bit there for Pat’s and it helped having me as assistant coach. I was able to make some changes I knew about.
“Dylan was good too. He really held his own at left half and played really well for us.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.