GOAL FEST: Ipswich under-18 players Layla Eleison (left) and co-captain Eden Jackat celebrate a goal during their 8-0 win over Mackay yesterday. Eleison and Jackat both scored along with Gabby Nicholls, Emma Johnson and Lauren Hess.
GOAL FEST: Ipswich under-18 players Layla Eleison (left) and co-captain Eden Jackat celebrate a goal during their 8-0 win over Mackay yesterday. Eleison and Jackat both scored along with Gabby Nicholls, Emma Johnson and Lauren Hess. David Nielsen

Under-18 girls pipped for final shot after three-way battle

QUICK HANDS: Ipswich player Brooke Pavitt takes on a Mackay opponent during yesterday's under-18 match at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.

NEEDING a draw to secure an under-18 state title grand final spot at home, Ipswich gave their all.

Sadly, perhaps cruelly, it was not enough.

In suffering their only loss after three impressive wins, the Ipswich girls were suddenly relegated to today's playoff for third at the Queensland championships.

However, even that needed a countback to determine after Ipswich, Toowoomba and Brisbane finished on three wins each.

With Ipswich and Brisbane having the same record (14 goals for, five goals against), the home team advanced, having beaten Brisbane 3-2 on Sunday.

It was a dream scenario for a mathematician. For everyone else, it was nerve-racking.

While Ipswich just held second in the pool, Brisbane came third, being left to play off for fifth today.

Toowoomba, with the same number of wins, made today's grand final at 12.30pm.

Such is the cut-throat nature of state tournaments these days.

After two wins on day one, the Ipswich girls continued their fine run, outclassing Mackay 8-0 yesterday morning at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.

However, the 2-1 late afternoon loss to Toowoomba ended their grand final hopes.

"I'm disappointed for the girls because they really deserved it," Ipswich coach Sharon Pavitt said, sitting quietly in the team dressing room after the game.

"They did extremely well, actually. They gave 100 percent.

"They did everything I could have asked for so I'm extremely proud."

Rising striker Gabby Nicholls netted a hat-trick in the morning game to help keep her team on track for the grand final.

However, Toowoomba spoiled the party with a goal in each half.

Ipswich player Brooke Pavitt netted a penalty corner after the siren in a desperate bid to improve her team's goal difference. That proved decisive in securing Ipswich a third place playoff.

Dual registered Ipswich-based player Jade Emblem had mixed feelings after lining up for Toowoomba.

"I've grown up with a lot of those girls and it's always a tough game against them," the St Mary's College state and Australian under-21 Country representative said.

"Ipswich marked me out a lot. They definitely stuck to me."

The skilful Emblem is hoping Toowoomba can finish the job in today's final.

Even after Ipswich's pleasing morning win, Pavitt knew her team had to at least draw with Toowoomba to top the pool.

"It's always pretty tight actually," she said.

"It is really tough the way this works I guess but everybody has to play with the same draw.

"We talked about what we had to do to win and make the final. The girls knew exactly where we stood."

Pavitt said Toowoomba were a well-drilled, sharp side. That was highlighted in their record of scoring 17 goals and only conceding four.

"The girls did play well. Unfortunately, a few things just didn't go our way," Pavitt said.

"It's been a great tournament and the improvement in the girls in their attitude, their fitness and just the way they are playing is awesome."

The Ipswich girls have to regroup for their playoff at 8.45am today.



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