Tasmania upset NSW in penalty shootout win at Australian under-21 hockey championships

KEEP AWAY: Tasmanian captain Jack Welch shields the ball from the Queensland clutches during the state's opener at this year's Australian under-21 hockey championships in Sydney. Picture: Click In Focus
KEEP AWAY: Tasmanian captain Jack Welch shields the ball from the Queensland clutches during the state's opener at this year's Australian under-21 hockey championships in Sydney. Picture: Click In Focus

Tasmania is remarkably just one victory away from the men’s gold-medal game at the Australian under-21 hockey championships.

The tournament battlers took full advantage of a new format at the nationals, knocking out the top-ranked hosts in Sydney during a penalty shootout on Sunday. 

A shocked New South Wales were eliminated from title contention 2-1 on penalties after scores had been deadlocked 3-3 at full-time.

The Tasmanians had lost their opening three matches.

But the last-placed side in pool B was still drawn to play New South Wales in the cut-throat final.

Heading into the final 10 minutes, Tasmania looked destined for an early exit. 

After Hayden Beltz had levelled for Tasmania in the 23rd minute, New South Wales talent Ehren Hazell scored his second and third goals of the day for a 3-1 lead.

But two late goals from team hero Benji Austin that also included a dramatic last-minute equaliser took the clash into sudden death.

Captain Jack Welch gave Tasmania a one-goal break from the shootout’s opening two shots before both sides surrendered the next four.

South Launceston Sun Kurt Budgeon missed the fourth shot that would have put his state two goals up.

But Beltz put the underdogs in front 2-1 before a fifth and final New South Wales attempt was blocked by Tassie goalie Daniel Harper. 

The winners are set to face ACT on Tuesday.

But the state’s women will not advance into the last four at the championships.

Tasmania was outplayed 6-1 against Queensland in the knockout phase.

The side was headed for a certain whitewash loss until Maddison Curtis pulled one back late in the 58th minute.

Tassie women will look to regain some pride from its classification playoff match, also against ACT on Tuesday.