BY ROMULUS HUTA
In Port Moresby, PNG
THE Solomon Islands national under-18 hockey men’s team made a perfect comeback in the final third to edge hosts PNG 5-4 in a nail-biting action yesterday in the second round of the Oceania Youth Olympic Hockey Qualifiers in Port Moresby.
The contest was a repeat of their earlier meeting during the tournament’s opener on Wednesday where they drew two-all at the Sir John Guise Hockey Pavilion.
Like in the first meeting, the hosts opened scoring in the first third and came out leading 1-0 after the first 10 minutes.
The match resumed into the second period and Solomon Islands bagged a goal to equalise. However, PNG added two more goals and extended lead to 3-1 by the second interval.
The match grew tense as it entered the final period and Solomon Islands fought to their best to score a total of four goals through a last-gasp effort in the dying moments to win the match.
PNG tried to make a comeback in the final two minutes and could only manage to get one goal but it was too late as Solomon Islands held onto the 5-4 margin to win the match.
Solomon Islands head coach Allen Temoa was overwhelmed with the result.
“I knew we would win the game.
“After they came out leading us after the second period, I told the boys to focus and play with a strong winning mentality.
“Going into the final third, we made a lot of changes to our game approach.
“PNG players appeared to have slowed down in most of their turning and we used that as a weapon to redirect our game plan and ended up scoring the four goals,” Temoa added.
The Oceania Youth Olympic Hockey Qualifiers is being competed by the hosts, Australia, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.
The competition is conducted in a round robin format of two rounds. This means that each team get to play all opponents twice.
In their other match yesterday against Australia, they lost 19-0.
Solomon Islands currently sits at the third position of the ladder with four points behind Australia and Vanuatu, respectively, while PNG occupies the bottom spot.
The men’s team have two more matches to play before all round robin matches are wrapped up.
The two winners of the men’s competition will qualify into this year’s Youth Olympic Games set to take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina in October.