A FRANKSTON Hockey Club stalwart’s epic scramble to score in a sudden death penalty shootout has seen the Stingrays secure premiership glory in the men’s Vic League Three grand final.
After missing his initial chance early in the shootout, Brendan Taylor’s penalty goal gave the Stingrays a 3-2 lead in the shootout. Scores were tied 1-1 with RMIT at full-time in last weekend’s grand final at the State Hockey Centre.
Frankston’s Nicholas Nixon scored early in the second quarter, with the Stingrays overall dominating the first half.
In the second half RMIT played quick counter-attack hockey and evened the scoreboard in the fourth quarter with only seven minutes remaining.
The first shootout, with five players from each side having eight second to beat the goalie, resulted in one a piece. Andy Mills scored for Frankston. The subsequent shootout was a sudden death elimination.
RMIT’s leading goal scorer for the year Thomas Pollock went first and confidently scored.
Frankston and the league’s leading goal scorer Andy Mills went next and snuck one past the keeper to even the ledger.
RMIT’s second penalty failed to beat Matthew Tang in goals for Frankston, opening an opportunity for Taylor.
Taylor’s initial shot on goal was saved by RMIT’s keeper, but scrambling to follow up, Taylor dove backwards and nudged the ball over the goal line – earning the victory and a broken collarbone.
Taylor, who celebrated 400 first grade games played with Frankston earlier this year, said the break was worth scoring the winning goal.
“It was extra special for me after returning from retirement in 2016 and an ACL reconstruction in 2019,” he said. “I would do it differently and maybe score that first one. I did feel the pressure but hearing the crowd as I lined up fired me up to do something special for the team and club.”
Stringrays mens coach Andrew Haining said it was exciting to have ended the premiership drought. “This was the result of the work the boys have put in over a number of tough years and I’m so proud we got the win,” he said. “As many other community sport clubs have experienced, dealing with constant player unavailability due to COVID and other illness was a significant challenge for the club.
“We’d regularly have a full team unavailable across the men’s section and it’s a testament to our depth we’ve built that we’ve remained competitive across all the grades. With promotion into Vic League 2 in 2023, I’m looking forward to seeing this group meet the challenge.”
The men’s firsts had finished the season undefeated with 14 wins and two draws. They scored 70 goals and only conceded eight.