Sport

Gold standard

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July 12, 2017

Shepparton hockey talent Connor Holland had an outstanding tournament at the under-17 Junior State Championships.

It is not often that an under-17 state championship tournament is a step down in class for someone aged 15.

But that is exactly how it looked whenever Shepparton product Connor Holland took to the pitch last week against Hockey Victoria’s best young talent.

With men’s Premier League and under-18 National Outdoor Championship experience under his belt, Holland was always going to star for his North West Metro Tigers, but the extent of his dominance had to be seen to be believed.

The gun slotted 12 goals for the tournament, double that of any other player, including seven in the second game of the week.

He was also clearly the best player on the pitch in the final against the Western Metro Wildcats, helping his Tigers to gold with an outstanding display.

Holland made numerous runs deep into attack early in the match and found himself in the right position to sink a cut-back into the back of the goals to open the scoring in just the fifth minute of the game.

As the sides traded blows, Holland was thrown into defence, and prowled the back of the arena well until early in the second half.

A short corner to the Wildcats in the fifth minute of the period thrust Holland into the thick of the action, with the Shepparton Strikers export charging down a penalty shot.

The ball was fired directly into his leg from close range though and, for a minute, it looked as if a serious injury had occurred.

Holland returned after a short stint on the sidelines into the midfield and to his credit attacked his next short corner defence with as much vigour as his first.

A rare mistake late in the game from the rising star gave possession away in prime position, but Holland chased down his opponent quickly to engineer a diving tackle and erase his error.

The final result was the Tigers triumphant 2-1 against their close rivals, with Holland integral in the win.

A stint in the School Sport Victoria 16-and-under side is next on the horizon for Holland, with the Pacific School Games in South Australia beginning on December 2.

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