OLYMPIC champion Kim Tuckwell scored the winning goal in her last game of hockey as Oxfords upset Souths 1-0 to claim back-to-back grand final wins in the Newcastle Women's Premier League on Saturday.
Souths were favourites after winning the minor premiership and beating Oxfords in their three clashes. However, Tuckwell (nee Small) showed determination in the circle to get the decisive touch in the 18th minute. Oxfords then held firm against the young Souths attack to give the club consecutive grand final victories in the top division for the first time since 1981.
It was the final game for 54-year-old former Hockeyroo Tuckwell, who won Olympic gold in 1988.
Tuckwell had come out of retirement this season to join Oxfords, who also farewelled skipper Ellen Seaniger in style. Seaniger, who is moving interstate, was player of the grand final after a dominant partnership in midfield with Dana Constable.
Oxfords coach Thea O'Sullivan praised the effort of Tuckwell, who came to the club through her friendships with Constable's mother and club legend Judy Laing.
"It's Kim's last game, she tells us," O'Sullivan said. "She played today with two pretty ordinary hamstrings, but she just wanted to go out there and give it her all in her last game."
O'Sullivan said the goal epitomised her side.
"It came from a good build up of play," she said.
"It started with a really good tackle in defence and we worked it up the field.
"We got it across from the corner and it was then just persistence with the keeper, but most of the team touched the ball through that passage of play, and that's indicative of the team we are. We use the whole park."
Souths coach Tony Duck said Oxfords' experience shone through.
"We put a couple of good shots on them but they repelled," Duck said. "[Keeper] Jasmine [Etheridge] was really good and their centre-back, Danielle [Barry].
"We had a great year and that was only our second loss. Unfortunately it was in the grand final, but hopefully it gives them more resolve."
"Grand finals are not always pretty. Sometimes you've got to get in there and work hard for that result."
O'Sullivan said her side's composure and teamwork were the difference.
"The older heads on our team were able to keep them composed a bit more than Souths were, but we really took it to them," she said.
"We spoke before the game about just giving all you can and just having courage to get those loose balls and make those tackles and doing it for each other."
Kirsten Drysdale, from Tigers, was named player of the year.