EAGLEHAWK coach Greg Thomas has lauded his team’s defensive work after the Hawks clinched their third-straight Bendigo Amateur Soccer League men’s championship title.
The Hawks defeated Moama-Echuca Border Raiders 7-0 in Sunday’s season championship ender at Truscott Reserve to claim the trophy for the third-straight year.
The victory gave Eaglehawk a two point buffer in the title race over Shepparton United, which ended its championship campaign with a 3-0 win against Golden City.
Naturally pleased with his side’s show of firepower against the Border Raiders, Thomas insisted it was the Hawks’ defensive work across the entire field that had led them to a first-ever three-peat for the proud club.
“We’ve heard a lot of talk about other clubs and their defensive record, but we have the best defence in the league,” he said.
“We have now had eight clean sheets in a row and only conceded three goals in the whole second round. For me that’s what has won us the championship.
“Eight clean sheets in a row is virtually unheard of. And it’s not necessarily our guys who play at the back, it was a whole team effort.
“To do it is really impressive.”
Eight clean (score) sheets in a row is virtually unheard of. And it’s not necessarily our guys who play at the back, it was a whole team effort.Greg Thomas
Thomas, who took over as coach in 2016, made no secret of the Hawks’ desire to win a third-straight championship for the first time in their history.
He remained firm in his belief that the championship – and not the post-season grand final was the major priority for at least the competition’s Bendigo-based clubs.
“To win three-in-a-row, particularly with the Shepparton teams coming into the competition (in 2017) and the league being a lot stronger now, is very tough to do,” he said.
“It’s something this group of players won’t get to do again together, so we’re happy with what we’ve achieved.
“As far as we are concerned, we don’t focus on finals, our main aim was to win the championship.
“I think what’s everyone should be playing for – the finals are just a bit of a cherry at the end of the year.
“It was certainly our goal – we’ll think about finals next week when we get to training.”
Star recruit Alexander Caldow, Nathan Hamblin and Jesse Parker each scored two goals in the 7-0 win, while Thomas added one.
The coach said clinching the championship in front of an appreciative home crowd was the icing on the cake.
The Hawks will meet Shepparton United in next week’s second semi-final, while Shepparton South and Strathdale will do battle in the elimination semi-final.
A candid Thomas believed a grand final win by any one of the four clubs remaining would not be considered a surprise.
In other final round results, Strathdale defeated Colts United 3-2, Epsom beat Shepparton 7-0 and Shepparton South overcame a determined Spring Gully United 1-0 at Stanley Avenue.
September Htoo was the round’s leading goal scorer with three for the Scorpions at Shepparton.