LOSING 3-1 to the Granville Tigers on Saturday may have signalled a return to form by the Cooloola Heat hockey team.
Although the Heat lost 3-1, coach Ben Fitzpatrick said his team was right in the game up until the last three minutes of the match, when their highly rated opponents sealed the win with a goal against the run of play.
The defeat is a big improvement on the Heat’s last outing against the Tigers when the Gympie side lost 8-1 and were down six goals in the first 10 minutes.
Fitzpatrick credits the Heat’s return to form on attitude more than an improvement in skill.
“Our intensity was really good and what it needs to be if we want to go anywhere in the finals this year,” Fitzpatrick said.
“I expect that every game now,” he said.
The Heat took an early lead when midfielder Daniel Naismith picked up the crumbs in the circle and scored, but the Cooloola team could have been two goals up when striker Dean Walker rocketed a ball past the keeper only to rebound of the top bar of the goal box.
Granville levelled the game midway through the first half and both teams went to the break at one all.
The Tigers jumped to the lead with a neat goal midway through the second half, but the Heat pushed forward and narrowly missed an equalising goal.
With three minutes to go the Heat earned a penalty corner and a chance to level the game, but strong Granville defence stopped the corner and their counter attack set up the winning goal.
Fitzpatrick credited fullbacks Dom Stephens and Dave Dixon with the Heat’s better defensive effort.
“Dicko and Dom played well at the back, their marking was really good. Dan (Naismith) played well too, the whole team put a lot of pressure on the Tigers,” he said.
The Heat is hoping their form will hold when they play at home this weekend.
The Heat play Wallaroos Saturday at Ramsey Park and Brothers on Sunday in Maryborough. Two wins in the double header could cement their spot in the finals. Fitzpatrick is hoping for a big crowd to cheer on the team at home.