The NSW Arrows will be recognised as the last ever Australian Hockey League gold medallists after defeating the Queensland Scorchers 7-6 in an epic finish at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Impressive performances from duo Emily Smith and Mariah Williams secured the historic win, which went down to the wire in front of more than 1,100 hockey fans.
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.
Queensland goalkeeper Hannah Astbury made her work for the conversion but Williams was able to force it into the goals giving the Arrows an early 2-0 lead.
The Fitzpatrick sisters combined for a field goal in the 12th minute, Madison found Savannah on the run who found the gap and scored. Savannah went back and was able to nail the conversion with a reverse stick shot from a very tricky angle.
Rosie Malone had a chance late in the first after cutting off the Arrows attack in their defensive half, she ran unmanned into the D but her strike was blocked by Jocelyn Bartram.
Arrows co-captain Emily Smith showed off her pace in the 21st minute, dribbling the ball into the D on a breakaway and striking at goal. Her shot was deflected into the goals by teammate Greta Hayes.
Hayes backed down Queensland keeper Astbury in the one-on-one conversion opportunity putting herself in a position to flick the ball into the corner of the net.
Trailing 4-2, it was the Scorchers who struck first in the second half. Queensland’s forward half pressure was enough to create a penalty corner opportunity and veteran Jodie Kenny capitalised, scoring her third trademark penalty corner for the tournament.
The maroon celebrations didn’t last long, just two minutes later Lisa Farrell was able to score from the field. Farrell was set up after a ball was deflected by keeper Astbury, her shot powered into the net to quieten the crowd.
Farrell’s trick-shot almost snuck the conversion past Astbury, but the keeper reacted and killed the ball on the last line of defence.
An incredible passage of play in the 49th minute threatened to put the game out of reach for the Scorchers.
Kate Hanna intercepted a pass from opposition player Ash Fey before hitting Tamsin Bunt with an electric pass. Bunt was able to look inside the D for Lisa Farrell who found Grace Stewart for the field goal.
Stewart took on Astbury for the conversion but she was forced wide and couldn’t find the net.
Moments later Abigail Wilson jumped on a wayward Queensland pass deep in the Arrows attack, she was able to run into the D and smash the shot into the backboard. Once again Astbury was able to defend the conversion.
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.
Bartram showed why she’s in the national squad, worrying Savannah Fitzpatrick out of the shot long enough for the conversion timer to exhaust.
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.
With the clock ticking down, the Arrows were able to maintain possession and hold onto a famous victory.