EPSOM Primary School’s boys’ hockey team has continued its surprise run by qualifying for next month’s School Sport Victoria state championships.
The team, which is being coached by Nat Bishop and Brad Evans, with support from Kylie Evans, Sherrie McGavock and the school’s physical education teacher Gill Davey, defeated Boort Primary School 2-1 in the Loddon Mallee region final at Swan Hill last Tuesday.
It reversed an earlier tournament loss to Boort, which left Epsom with a 2-1 record heading into the grand final following wins over Kerang and South Mildura primary schools.
Epsom had qualified for the regional tournament by earlier winning the Sandhurst division crown.
The state finals will be played at the Footscray Hockey Club complex in Yarraville on Thursday, September 14.
It is believed to be the first time an Epsom Primary School team has qualified for a state final.
Central Victoria hockey stalwart Kylie Evans, who has helped train the team, said the accomplishment was all-the-more impressive by the fact only four of the 12 team members played actual competition hockey.
“The regional tournament was played on grass, which was something our kids hadn’t done prior to last Tuesday,” she said.
“But I guess the main thing is that only four of our boys actually play in the Hockey Central Vic competition.
“The four who have played play for Sandhurst under-13s, who are quite a powerhouse in that competition and will play finals.
“It does help that a few of those boys play, but the other boys have picked up the game very well.
“We’ve been having trainings at lunchtime and they’ve really embraced it.
“It’s pretty good for a small school like Epsom.”
The regional tournament win capped a strong rivalry with Boort Primary.
The two schools had finished top of their respective pools in the Sandhurst division competition and met in the grand final.
Epsom again took the honours with a hard-fought win.
The state titles will be contested by the winners of the eight School Sport Victoria primary regions.
Epsom will play three qualifying matches, starting with the yet to be crowned winner of the Northern Metropolitan region.
A clash against Leopold Primary School follows in round two before a final round encounter against Hamilton Alexandra College.
Two section winners will meet in the grand final that afternoon.
Evans said being the first Epsom Primary team to advance to the state championships had created an enormous buzz around the school.
“We were a bit surprised to be honest; we didn’t write ourselves off going up there to Swan Hill, but we didn’t expect to come away with the victory,” she said.
“I’d like to think we can keep surprising teams in Melbourne, where some of their opponents are state under-13 players.
“But we’ll be giving it our best.”