The strength of junior hockey continues to be on the rise.
With competitions in Melbourne still at a higher level than those in this region, junior grand finals on Saturday displayed how far the Goulburn Valley Hockey Association had come in recent years.
Echuca-Moama claimed victories in the under-15 and under-13 grand finals with both fiercely contested by teams from Shepparton Youth Club.
While the margin was 4-0 in the under-13 grand final, junior GVHA president Anne Forster said both sides produced an entertaining match.
‘‘The final score didn’t indicate the closeness, it was only in the last 10-15 minutes that they (Echuca-Moama) got a bit more dominance and certainly the score didn’t indicate the toughness,’’ she said.
Under-15 action had an identical scoreline to its younger counterparts, but SYC pushed its opposition for the match’s entirety.
Only in the dying minutes of the game did the River Rats blitz their opponents to score four goals and star Shae Oliver was crowned player of the match.
Forster is thrilled by the progress seen among the junior sides, hoping it will continue to build across the off-season.
‘‘We went away to Junior Country Week and usually we win a couple of games, but this year we were runner-up in the 15s and 13s, so we were much stronger,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s been a really good year and the development has been good, hopefully we’ll see more on that side over the summer with a junior twilight competition.’’
The end goal for Forster is to have a junior association as strong as those in Melbourne, with players in the city competing all year round.
The eight-week summer tournament will be a seven-aside mixed competition starting next month with those wanting more information able to email Anne Forster at anne.forster22 @gmail.com
●The GVHA celebrated the achievements of its junior stars with Kale Kennedy named the under-18 best-and-fairest winner.
The Mooroopna talent continues to star not just in the junior ranks, but also with the men’s side, consistently named among the most prolific players for the senior side.
Sinduri Iyengar was deemed most improved, Siobhan Linnett claimed the coaches award and Natasha Keen-Smith took out the Leesa Purcell Memorial trophy.
The under-15 best-and-fairest award went to Benalla’s Perry Plex, with Mooroopna’s Jack Vaivars (under-13) and SYC’s Nathan Greig (under-13 6s) also the most outstanding in their age division.