Uni have missed their chance to be the first team to qualify for the 2011 Illawarra mens hockey Grand Final.
Last year’s premiers were defeated 4-3 by arch-rivals Albion Park in a heart-stopping Semi-Final encounter at the Illawarra Credit Union Hockey Stadium on the weekend.
The exciting battle had a great atmosphere right from the beginning with ample supporters turning out for both teams.
The crowd were on the edge of their seats for the majority of the match and the Uni supporters were particularly vocal, with regular chants of “Uni, Uni, Uni, Oi, Oi, Oi”, ringing throughout the ground.
Momentum ebbed and flowed between both sides throughout the first half, with both sides evenly matched in attack and defence and it was quite some time before eihter side were able to take control of the match.
First blood eventually went to Uni after just ten minutes when Matt Burke capitalised on an opportunity to score the first goal and put his side in the lead.
The response from Albion Park was swift with Blake Govers levelling the scores just minutes later with the first of his four goals for the match from a corner.
As the battle for possession and momentum continued throughout the first half, so did the battle for both teams with the slippery surface.
Players from both sides were constantly slipping over, occasionally at crucial times, although Uni Captain-Coach Simon Beaton later joked it may have just been time for some of the boys to get some new shoes.
With the scores still level at 1-1 at half time both sides began the second half desperate to snatch a goal to give their team the advantage.
After just five minutes of the second half, it was Blake Govers of Albion Park who scored his side’s second goal, in almost identical fashion to the first.
Albion Park was beginning to ask some serious questions of Uni’s defence, but they appeared up to the task when Josh Walters levelled the scores at 2-2 only minutes later.
It appeared almost impossible to pick a winner throughout the second half as both sides defended well and created opportunities for themselves.
Howver at both ends many opportunities were denied time and time again by great defence and some desperate saves as the scores stayed level.
Tension was running high both in the crowd and on amongst the players on the field and it took a third goal to Blake Govers from a corner to finally break the deadlock with just two minutes remaining.
Uni refused to give in and although there was just two minutes left on the clock, there was to be another twist in the tale when Josh Walter’s scored his second goal from a brilliant individual effort, almost defying belief to once again level scores with seconds running out rapidly.
However there was to be no fairy tale end to the game with Blake Govers breaking the hearts of the Uni side when he scored his fourth goal from a corner to snatch his side a victory right on the buzzer.
Albion Park will now go straight into the Grand Final in two weeks time, while Uni will receive a second chance to qualify when they meet Wests, who earlier defeated Robertson 7-3, in next weeks Preliminary Final.