University claimed their fifth straight Illawarra men's hockey premiership with a hard-fought 3-2 win over a courageous Albion Park side at the Illawarra Credit Union complex yesterday.
The premiership win provided the icing on the cake in a wonderful season for the University club, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
University showed their class against a gallant Albion Park side who made the premiers fight all the way.
This was the fifth successive year these two proud clubs have played in the decider.
Though it was a wonderful achievement by University, it's hard not to feel for the Park players who gave their absolute all, going so close to breaking Uni's stranglehold on the premiership.
They must be wondering what they have to do to win.
The Albion Park effort was outstanding.
"It was exactly what we expected," said University player-coach Simon Beaton, who scored two of his team's goals.
"They stepped up a level from two weeks ago [when Uni won the major semi-final 8-3].
"I said to our boys, 'I hope they improve because that means we're going to have to put in those extra hard yards.'
"There's stuff we don't like doing that we had to do and I thought we did it today.
"It's always nice to score, but it's the young guys that did the running."
Though Beaton will continue as a player, he will not be as coach.
"I'm done coaching. I'm going to play but I can't commit to coaching next year," he said.
"Hopefully the next boys step up and keep the foundation that me and Kurt [Ogilvie] and Peter Huk from previous years have laid and they carry it through.
"We got the old boys from the 50th team and they presented the shirts to the boys before and it was pretty special.
"So it was a great celebration for the club."
Albion Park captain Steve Mayo praised the input from his players.
"The effort levels were up. We had a slightly different game plan," Mayo said.
"We tried to execute that and I thought it worked pretty well.
"I thought we created a few field shots and their goalie made a couple of nice saves.
"That's the end of it, I guess."
Heath Ogilvie captained the premiership team and, together with his brothers Kurt and Flynn, plays a significant role in this outstanding side.
Albion Park led 1-0 after 22 minutes when Steve Cassell produced a superb trap and through ball before Blake Govers smashed the ball into the back of the net.
University replied almost immediately and from a set play Beaton equalised in the 24th minute.
The score remained locked 1-1 at half-time before University went 2-1 ahead through Beaton in the 47th minute, again from a perfectly executed set piece.
Jeremy Huk stretched the lead to 3-1 with a cracking shot from the field in the 62nd minute.
Govers pulled one back with a goal from a penalty corner in the 69th minute, but it was University who claimed the title.