It’s been a long time between drinks for Oxfords.
This weekend will mark the club’s first Newcastle District Women’s Hockey Association premier league grand final appearance since 2004.
They last won the title in 2003.
Oxfords coach and club president Thea O’Sullivan said it was a good feeling to be back in the top showdown.
“It’s the first time in 14 years we’ve made a first grade grand final,” O’Sullivan said.
“The club has such a rich history, but we’ve had a bit of a rough patch and we’ve been working hard to build it back up. We’re all pretty pumped for this weekend.”
Oxfords will go head-to-head with the Central Coast team Avoca Devils in the 2018 decider at Newcastle International Hockey Centre on Saturday (3pm).
Both teams finished the regular season at the pointy end of the overall standings with 50 competition points, only separated by Avoca’s superior goal difference.
They met a fortnight ago in the major semi-final with Oxfords eventually going down to Avoca after a dramatic encounter decided on the eighth round of a penalty shootout. It was 1-all at full-time.
The remaining three regular round games are split down the middle – 1-0 to Oxfords on March 10, 1-0 to Avoca on May 26 and a 0-all draw on July 14.
“Each game between us has been really tight,” O’Sullivan said.
“I don’t think it will be any different this weekend.”
Oxfords will look to “game-changing” midfielder Ellen Seaniger and NSW Arrows goalkeeper Jess Parr while Jess Antonovich (away) and Diane Casey (injured) are both unavailable.
O’Sullivan said Avoca’s main danger was NSW under-21 representative Kendall Steel, who previously played with the Central club: “she is dynamite”.
Oxfords qualified for the grand final courtesy of another penalty shootout, this time 4-3 over defending champions Tigers after scores were locked at 0-all in normal time on Saturday.
O’Sullivan said Oxfords stalwart and Hockey Australia hall of famer Colleen Quinn, 88, would be cheering from the sidelines.
NSW Institute of Sport coach Judy Laing has recently been assisting with Oxfords’ training sessions.
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