A GRIPPING penalty shootout delivered Old Canberrans their first top-grade premiership in 16 years yesterday, denying Central a fourth straight Hockey ACT crown.
Checks goalkeeper Aaron Borrett capped a heroic game in the net, saving an Andrew Tomadini stroke to confirm a 3-2 win in the shootout after neither side had found a way on to the score sheet following 70 minutes, plus two periods of extra-time.
After a string of brilliant saves in regular time to keep his side in the contest, Borrett stopped two Central strokes and watched Simeon Baker-Finch's effort sail over his crossbar.
The result could have easily been different had Central's Matthew Hotchkis not been disallowed a goal in the 23rd minute.
Hotchkis was judged to have obstructed Borrett before finding the net and Old Canberrans instead won a free hit.
''It was a short-corner hit and it was stuck there [on my right arm]. I don't know what the umpire saw but my arm was pushed out of the way by a couple of sticks and then they touched the ball into the goal,'' Borrett said.
''The umpire said they were hacking on my stick so it made sense to me.''
Hotchkis had a different opinion on the ruling, but agreed Borrett had been superb throughout the contest.
''I don't want to take anything away from their win but from our point of view it was a goal, no doubt about it,'' Hotchkis said. ''That's sport, a few calls go each way. I tried to move on after it was disallowed ...
''He [Borrett] played well. He got the player of the match and deservedly so.''
Hotchkis could have stolen the game in the 65th minute but blasted a reverse shot wide.
Jason Donohoe broke clear in the first half of extra-time but had his goal-bound shot miraculously deflected by Borrett.
''I try my best and just stick my neck out wherever I can. If I'm throwing myself dangerously at the ball, then so be it,'' Borrett said.
Yesterday's victory delivered a perfect finish to Old Canberran's 75-year celebrations and marked a telling return to the top of Canberra hockey after the club had almost folded a decade ago.
OLD CANBERRANS 0 bt CENTRAL 0 (Old Canberrans won 3-2 on penalties) at National Hockey Centre yesterday.
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