Home grown hockey star

Up from here: Hazelwood North's Leandra McLauchlan sports her silver medal from the Under 15 Australian Hockey Championships. Photograph: Tom Hayes




RECENTLY, the Under 15 Australian Hockey Championships were held in Darwin, and the Latrobe Valley had their own representative out on the pitch.

Playing at the Latrobe Valley Hockey Association, Hazelwood North’s Leandra McLauchlan was selected to play for Victoria at the Championships from April 15 to 21, after her try-out was successful.

“I did two or three try-outs,” Leandra said.

“It was pretty exciting, I’ve always wanted to do it.”

Leandra and her mum made the trip to the Northern Territory so she could take part in the championships.

Fifteen-year-old Leandra has played hockey for nearly 10 years now, getting into the sport because her dad played locally, and she has been able to grow her craft as she gets older.

“I was six when I started, it was because my dad played it already, so I tried it because I was there,” Leandra said.

At the championships, Leandra and Victoria were drawn into Pool A, with five games scheduled to play.

They exited the pool with three wins (2-0 over South Australia, 3-2 over Western Australia Black and 5-1 over New South Wales Blues), a 1-1 draw with Northern Territory and a 7-1 loss to Queensland Maroon.

Their record allowed them to enter the finals bracket, beginning with a semi-final against Queensland Gold.

Victoria drew first blood, taking the lead just before halftime, but Queensland Gold managed a late equaliser in the final period to send the game to a shootout.

After five shots each in the shootout, the scores were tied at 2-2, but in the sudden death shots, Victoria prevailed to progress to the Gold Medal match.

In the final, Leandra and Victoria would face the only team that was able to defeat them, Queensland Maroon.

Unfortunately, Queensland Maroon were stronger once again, defeating Victoria 3-0 to claim gold.

But, silver was awarded to the Victorian team, and there is nothing wrong with silver, as Leandra was more than happy with the outcome.

“I don’t know what I expected, but we were pretty happy with the outcome,” she said.

“I feel like I improved a lot, my coaches also said I improved a lot.”

Her improvement was justified, as Leandra was awarded with the most improved award for the Victorian team.

Leandra has high hopes for hockey, and hopes to continue to grow her craft to a higher level.

“Next year I want to go play at a higher level, like Premier League or Premier League Reserves,” she said.

“And I obviously want to try out for state next year as well.

“I just want to focus on the next few years, prove myself, and see where it can take me from there.”

Leandra is currently in the process of transferring to Casey Hockey Club, the next step in her growing hockey career.

She and her family would like to thank Latrobe City Council for its support in the form of grants, allowing Leandra to try out for the team.