Gold-medal favourite Hockeyroos sent a stern warning in their Commonwealth Games opener on Thursday, brushing aside Malaysia 4-0.
Sporting black armbands in the wake of last week’s Malaysia Airlines disaster, Australia proved far too classy for the Asian minnows and the margin could’ve been greater were it not for defiant goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya.
Jodie Kenny opened the scoring after seven minutes off a penalty corner, the only set piece of the game to yield a Hockeyroos goal.
Crookwell product Kellie White doubled the lead at the 20-minute mark before two brilliant backhand goals either side of half-time by Georgina Parker sealed the win.
Eight penalty corners also went unconverted.
“Our PCs could’ve been a bit more thorough, we said right at the beginning of the game that if we put away our PCs that we could win by a lot,” White said.
“We rely on our drag flickers quite a bit, as we saw in the World Cup, [Anna Flanagan] and Jodes [Jodie Kenny] flicking quite well.
“We’ll be debriefing today on how we can score more goals and also maybe our structure going forward into the circle could be improved as well, and making sure we be brave on the second post and that we put those chances in.”
White and teammate Emily Smith make up a two-pronged Crookwell contingent in the Australian side, giving the chilly NSW town the best Hockeyroo per capita rate in Australia.
Roughly 2000 people live in Crookwell, a population encompassing several generations of both the Smith and White families.
White’s dad was one of eight children, while her mum was one of five, and Smith’s family tree stretches even further.
“We probably have two of the biggest extended families in Crookwell, my mum’s one of 11,” the pint-sized Smith said.
“It’s great to go back and give back to Crookwell when they’ve put so much support into us.”
Since the pair moved to Perth and debuted for the Hockeyroos in 2011, the tight-knit Crookwell community has followed them every step of the way.
Despair set in two years back when a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament cost White a spot at the London Olympics.
Then hockey fever took over Crookwell last month during the World Cup in the Netherlands, where Australia went down 2-0 to the Dutch in the final.
A similar excitement is sweeping through the town this week.
“The sports store back home that [ex-Canberra Raider] Michael Picker owns, he did a jumper for Em and me for the World Cup,” White said.
“They were selling them back home, the White and Smith edition for the World Cup.
“A lot of the town supported that, so it was good for business back home and good for us to be getting that support.”
White and Smith met each other through minkey hockey almost 20 years ago, and have played alongside each other for more than a decade, growing up together in the NSW representative system.
The pair were even living together when White injured her knee, an experience that only strengthened their bond.
“It could’ve been quite difficult and put some strains on our relationship, but it didn’t. We were both there for each other and supported each other in the challenges that we were having that year,” White said.
“It was a good learning curve for me and something that spurs me on every day at training.”
“London was obviously my main target, but once that ACL was ruptured I said to myself right then and there that I wanted to make the World Cup and the Comm Games; and so far I’ve achieved that.
“I did want a gold medal at the World Cup, though silver’s not so bad, it’s the next one down, so that was pretty good. Now I’m a part of the Comm Games and chasing that gold medal.”
Expect wild celebrations in Glasgow and Crookwell should the Hockeyroos land another Games gold medal.
“If we’ve got a lateish game here, they’ll be up [in Crookwell], no one will miss it,” Smith said.
AUSTRALIA 4 (Jodie Kenny (PC) 7m, Kellie White 20m, Georgina Parker 30m, 49m) bt MALAYSIA 0.
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