Hockeyroos star Mariah Williams and the NSW Arrows have made history as the last ever Australian Hockey League gold medallists, defeating the Queensland Scorchers 7-6 at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Williams’ contribution came early on for the New South Wales outfit, as she slotted home a field goal before converting the advantage to give the travelling side a 2-nil lead just five minutes into the gold medal contest.
Williams – having recently returned from injury – found the ball deep in attack early and was able to hit the backboard with a reverse stick shot.
Although the Arrows looked in control for much of the title fight, the ladies in blue were forced to wave away a late scare, as the Scorchers soared back to bring the standings to just a single point.
Trailing 7-3 it looked as though the Scorchers fate was already sealed but a 55th minute field deflection goal from Savannah Fitzpatrick sparked some hope for the Queenslanders.
With just one minute remaining Stephanie Kershaw scored in dramatic fashion, breaking past the defence and nailing home a field goal. With momentum on her Kershaw was able to beat Bartram in the one-on-one to score the conversion.
In the end, the Arrows trusted their defence to hold out the rampant Scorchers, and claimed victory by a single goal.
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The early contribution that eventually proved a key difference in the match was one of Williams’ shining moments in the competition, but her tournament overall had been a dominant one, including a goal in the 4-3 semi-final victory against Victoria.
The silverware was NSW’s seventh overall, cementing their dominance as the strongest state in the old AHL format – a record that will now stand forever.
Next year will see what was described as a “fully-revised” hockey league introduced instead. This year’s edition of the AHL included some of the prospective changes, and was initially expected to see the new competition unveiled, but new-look competition was delayed until 2019 instead.