Altona has discovered the attacking formation that can make it a significant player in the Hockey Victoria men’s premier league this season.
The Seagulls are not only on track for a finals berth, but have a top-four finish in their sights, as they head into the second half of the season.
“Our goal for the last few years has always been to finish top four and that hasn’t changed, even though it’s moved to a top-eight finals series,” Seagulls captain Steve Campbell said.
“If you finish top four, you get the benefit of a home final and a break in there if you win.
“We’re going into the second half very confident and super excited about it.”
Altona’s big improvement has come through its scoring options.
Set-piece specialist Andrew Scanlon is a top-five scorer in the league with 13 goals at better than a goal a game.
The support cast of Patrick Phillips (eight goals), Jyah Johnson (five), Harrison Gill and Tyson Priddle (both four) make the Seagulls unpredictable.
“Traditionally, we’ve been a good team defensively,” Campbell said.
“Our young guys, who have put in the hard yards, are coming along quite nicely now and playing key roles up front for us and also in the midfield, which is what has allowed us to get a few more goals on the board and be a bit more attacking.”
Scanlon has emerged as an elite scoring option in Victorian hockey.
The quality drag flicker was recently selected in the Vikings squad for the Australian Hockey League.
“He’s a key element to our make-up,” Campbell said.
“You can always rely on him to flick one in at the crucial stages.”
Goalkeeper Ben Hooppell will also be part of the Vikings squad.
Hooppell, one of Altona’s country contingent, has thrived since arriving at Sugar Gum Drive.
“A lot of our boys are actually from the country, so when they come down to Melbourne for university or work, we’re able to give them an environment which is really welcoming and they fit in nicely with us,” Campbell said.
“Hoops was playing in Melbourne at another club previously and wasn’t getting the opportunities, so he made the move to us a couple of years ago.
“To have a goalkeeper as good as he is and who is part of the Victorian senior squad is a real benefit to us.”
Altona, fifth on the ladder with eight wins, two draws and two losses, will meet undefeated top side Camberwell in the first game after the mid-season break on Sunday at the Altona Hockey Ground.
It will be the Seagulls toughest test between now and the finals.
“They’ve been really successful over the last four years and set the benchmark for the whole competition,” Campbell said.
“It’s a really big game, if we can knock them off with a few games in hand, we’ll set ourselves for that top four.
“They are talented, but we always seem to lift our standards against the top teams.”