Gosford beat ladder-rivals Erina-Avoca Beach to earn their shot at Oxfords next weekend. Image supplied.

Souths are heading straight to the grand final after winning their nail-biting semi-final match against the Oxfords 2-1 in extra time.

Oxfords were first to open the scoring at the Newcastle International Hockey Centre, with Phoebe Bloink-Hollier finding the back of the net to put her side in the lead.

It looked as though the Oxfords would double their lead soon after with a penalty stroke awarded, but Souths fill-in keeper Kaitlin Duck denied the chance.

It wasn’t until the third quarter that Souths’ “attacking flow started to come through” as striker Lara Watts slotted an equaliser. Intensity from both sides remained high throughout the remainder of the match, pushing the game into extra time.

The first five minutes saw only nine players from each side remain on the field. The play was end-to-end, but both teams were unable to penetrate either sides’ defence.

The game dropped to seven on seven for another five minutes, and with just a minute remaining Neva Williams deflected the ball to Teyjah Abell who slotted it in the corner of the net.

“It was a very, very close match,” said Souths coach Tony Duck. “I was expecting it to get to one-on-one’s, I was making decisions in my mind preparing for it, but we were able to get one with about 40 seconds to go.

“We will certainly be watching the game this Saturday in the lead up [to the final], have a couple of training runs and just work on our short corners for the match.”

Meanwhile, down south the close competition continued as fourth-placed Gosford beat their ladder-rivals Erina-Avoca Beach 3-2, also in extra time, to send the side into their first-ever preliminary final next week.

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Erina-Avoca were first off the mark, grabbing a goal in the first minute of the match to gain the upper hand.

Gosford “maintained their composure” to equalise the score by the end of the first quarter, with a penalty corner goal struck by Kathy Pasco and deflected in by Shelley Barrie.

The game remained in deadlock, until the final quarter where Kathy Pasco grabbed a second goal for Gosford in the dying minutes of the match.

It looked as though the side would be victorious, until Erina-Avoca was awarded a penalty corner seconds before full time and managed to level the scoring.

The game also went into extra time, with neither side finding the back of the net in the first five minutes. Both sides were forced down to seven players each and with less than two minutes to go, Gosford’s Alex Morrison cut through the defence and scored.

Gosford will face the Oxfords in the NDWHA Premier League’s preliminary final next weekend, while Souths now have a bye week ahead of the final.

I'm a 19 year old student at the University of Newcastle, studying a Bachelor of Communication majoring in Journalism. I grew up on the Mid North Coast, where I developed a love for soccer, surfing and writing.