Victoria Vikings have gone back-to-back at the Australian Hockey League after a 3-0 shootout victory over Queensland Blades in the gold medal match at Perth Hockey Stadium on Sunday night.
The Vikings claimed their fourth title on an evening where the state claimed both men’s and women’s crowns. It was the first time in the state’s history they’ve won both titles in the same year.
Victoria captain Chris Ciriello said: “It’s fantastic. The guys really fought hard.
“We had a few games where we were behind and had to really dig deep. We had some cards and all the rest of it.
“From a group of guys who really fought hard, I couldn’t be prouder as a captain.”
Victoria had to come from behind to claim the triumph with captain Chris Ciriello firing in from a 52nd minute penalty corner to level after Daniel Beale poked home a rebound in the third quarter for Queensland.
Vikings goalkeeper Johan Durst was the hero in the shootout, making three saves.
“It would’ve been lovely to finish it 2-1 but our goalkeeper Johan played really well, goalkeeper of the tournament, you can’t ask for much more,” Ciriello said.
James Webster and Josh Pollard converted their attempts, but Russell Ford was denied by Blades keeper Matthew Finn, leaving it to Aaron Kleinschmidt to finish the job.
Earlier it was a cagey affair in an evenly matched contest where genuine chances were limited.
Beale gave Queensland the lead after 36 minutes after Durst had denied Joel Rintala.
Victoria had mis-trapped numerous penalty corners, but Ciriello grabbed his moment with a cool finish in the final quarter.
Dylan Wotherspoon missed a late chance for Queensland, while Robert Bell heroically blocked a last-gasp Ciriello penalty corner too, before the game went to a shootout.
“It’s sensational,” Ciriello said. “I’ve played 16 years and played in three finals. Queensland beat me in one, we won last year and this year.
“It’s a long time between wins. Most of the guys have won under-21s so the group coming through is really good.”
Meanwhile, NSW won the bronze medal after the Waratahs came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 over India.
Queensland’s Robert Bell was named Player of the Final, while Rachael Lynch won the women’s equivalent.
Meanwhile Queensland pair Stephanie Kershaw and Mark Knowles won the Player of the Tournament awards for the women’s and men’s tournaments respectively.
Victoria duo Lynch and Durst won the Goalkeeper of the Tournament awards.
Victoria and Queensland won the female and male Play The Whistle awards respectively.
NSW’s Smith, Victoria’s Hurtz and WA’s Penny Squibb shared the female top scorer award, while Victoria’s Ciriello and Tasmania’s Kieron Arthur won the male equivalent.