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Vikings CL women adventures in the U18 Australian championships

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

Four of our amazing Vikings CL1 women players were recognised for their outstanding play and potential by being selected in the ACT Women’s U18s team to play at the Australian Championships in Hobart - Samantha Read, Imogen Dorsett, Alexis Bailey, Jess Speechley and Keira Polmanteer.

This annual tournament pits U18 development teams from across the country against each other, with some larger states entering two teams per gender, enabling a showcase for the game and affording an incredible development opportunity for hundreds of aspiring hockey youngsters.

While the scores didn’t always go in the favour of the ACT teams during the tournament, they admirably demonstrated skill, teamwork and determination with regular moments of excellent attack and defence throughout the whole campaign.

Samantha Read, Imogen Dorsett, Alexis Bailey, Jess Speechley and Keira Polmanteer. Not pictured but still celebrated: Head Coach Karl Brenner, who is also our Vikings U18s coach.

We decided to check in with our U18 reps to get some insights and memories from the Championships…

Favourite memory from the tournament

Sam: When the other team had a breakaway all the way down the field, I stopped them from scoring. It was myself, the keeper and the other girl, and I got in between them and cleared it out. We then went up the other end and ended up having a scoring opportunity. It was really exciting as a defender, you don’t often get glorious moments like that!

Keira: For me it was winning the game against Victoria. It was a first win for a lot of the girls and it was really special to have that with them.

Jess: Yeah, my favourite memory was the same game! It was a great moment because it such a good game. We all did so well and definitely the after-game celebration in the change room was the best (editor’s note: would have liked to know more about this but that was not forthcoming…)

Alexis: My favourite memory was just playing against the best under 18 hockey players in Australia and being lucky enough to represent ACT at this tournament with a great bunch of girls.

Immi: Winning against Vic Development! At 3-1 it was a very close match, but a very convincing win.

How did it help your development as a hockey player?

Jess: Oh, there was heaps of development – you’re always coming out of a championship having grown as a player, having learned something. Your mental play grows, your decision making becomes better from it. It’s just a great experience especially for those who want to really progress their hockey.

Kiera: It was great opportunity to compete with the best of the other under 18 hockey players in Australia, and to able to show that ACT is competitive. Most of the development was mental, and so going into next year hopefully we can get a few more wins now that the belief is there.

Sam: Being able to be playing against different competition, especially teams from bigger states like NSW and QLD, really helped to improve my skills. Such a great opportunity to try your best against tougher sides.

Alexis: Playing hockey against better competition and at a higher level has improved my ability to perform under pressure and refine my skills.

Toughest moment:

Sam: As a defender, when you keep having goals scored against you like in some games, it can be hard to get the mental strength to keep going and keep pushing, and to try and get your team up rather than being down like that.

Kiera: In a game against one of the NSW sides, going ahead against them 1-0, but then going down 6-1 in the end.

Jess: Yep, the game above was really tough, really heartbreaking but able to come together as a team during the game and after made it less hard.

Alexis: Unfortunately getting stuck in the girls change room toilets for 25 minutes after a game, whilst getting dressed after an ice bath recovery session.

Immi: Coming from a small state compared to like, QLD or NSW, you’re going to be up against some hard competition and you’re going to expect some disappointment in areas. Going against NSW, it was a very hard match, we didn’t go very well – but we gave it our all.

But actually… the actual hardest part of the championships was coming home! Our flight got cancelled, it was meant to be Melbourne to Canberra (so it should have been easy), but it was cancelled a few hours before and we ended up having to stay the night. We got to our hotel at about 12am, and then caught a rackety old bus the next day from Melbourne which took about 10 hours, so a tough time getting home. Still, it meant I got to spend more time with the team, so that was cool.

Silliest moment

Sam: Having one of our quietest team members just getting brutal on the field and pushing another player over; seeing someone usually so quiet and introverted getting really aggravated on the field, it was so funny.

Jess: Rookie day… like doing balloon popping on each other.

Alexis: It was participating in rookie day activities, for example, eating baby food. The one I ate was a lamb risotto, it looked orange and it tasted disgusting.

Immi: Lip syncing at Rookie Day! The girls sang Taylor Swift’s Our Song and, Party in the USA.

Funniest nickname

Alexis: It was Spiderman, it relates to a Vikqueen on this trip…

Jess: I copped Spiderman because my phone started playing the Spiderman theme song as my ringtone when (Kookaburras legends) Mark Hagar and Mark Knowles began speaking to everyone at an education session for the whole group!

Did the other Vikings girls behave themselves?

Sam: Yes… Imogen can be a bit rambunctious (we were roommates) but the Vikings girls did behave themselves and they did have a good time.

Everyone else: Yes, us Viking girls were good!

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