On the score sheet ... Edwina Bone.
Half the team is yet to turn 21, but assistant coach Steph Andrews believes the Canberra Strikers are ready to give the Australian Hockey League title ‘‘a real crack’’ after qualifying for finals for the first time since 2009.
Canberra’s 3-0 shut-out of Tasmania in Hobart on Sunday followed a 1-0 upset of defending champion Victoria in its opening match.
First-half goals to Jenna Cartwright and Shelley Watson and a second-half penalty to Edwina Bone ensured the Strikers remained unbeaten in the week-long tournament.
A strong crop of youngsters have graduated to the side this year after Canberra’s under-18 and under-21 squads also finished fourth at their respective national championships.
It bodes well for the future, but Andrews believes they are already capable of winning the trophy.
Canberra will qualify for the semis against Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland regardless of the result in its final pool clash against WA on Tuesday.
‘‘I think this group’s good enough to win it this year, without a doubt,’’ Andrews said.
‘‘It’s not easy to win an AHL title, especially for a small region, but I think we’ve got a group this year who can give it a real crack.
‘‘[Because of our size] most people expect us not to win, you could call us the underdog, but the best thing is you have nothing to lose.
‘‘It drives you more to prove people wrong.’’
ACT was a strong favourite against Tasmania, but Andrews admitted the win was a relief after struggling recently against the host side.
‘‘We’ve had a bit of a hoodoo with Tasmania, traditionally we’ve lost some critical games against them,’’ she said.
‘‘It probably wasn’t our finest game but to put three goals in the net is promising.’’
In the men’s competition in Melbourne, the Canberra Lakers are also unbeaten after hammering Tasmania 7-2 and a 3-2 boilover against WA in their first game.