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Madi strikes national shot

Madi RatcliffeWARRNAMBOOL hockey export Madi Ratcliffe made her seniordebut playing for Australia’sHockeyroos against Great Britain in Perth on Tuesday night.

Ratcliffe got her chance to playafter coach Adam Commens made seven changes to the side that played the opening two matches of the series in Bunbury at the weekend.

The 18-year-old stepped into Australia’s line-up after a number of players became unavailable after the weekend due to fitness concerns.

Confirming his teams for match three on Tuesday and the fourth test on Thursday, Commens said“Madi’s getting her chance with a few players nursing knocks”.

“She put in some great performances as part of our Junior World Cup qualifying group in the Gold Coast recently and has trained well,” he said.

“Madi is a bit of a goal sneak with some good skills.”

Adam CommensThe Standardbefore her debut, Ratcliffe said she was surprised with how quickly she had earned a spot in the Australian line-up, having only joined the Hockeyroos for training two weeks ago.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting it, but I’m very happy, very excited,” she said.

Ratcliffe said some nerves had set in after she learned on Monday afternoon that she would play her first Hockeyroos game, but a hitout on Tuesday morning helped settle them.

“It was good to get a bit of touch,” she said.

“Hopefully I can trap the ball (in my debut), really, but I if I can just do what I’ve been doing at practice, I should be okay.”

Ratcliffe said she was keeping her goals simple heading into her first game, hoping to connect with her new teammates whom she has only had a fortnight to get to know.

The series’remaining threegames will be played in Perth on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday,and will be streamed on epicentre.tv.

Speaking about the first two encounters of the six-game series with Great Britain, Commens said the Hockeyroos “had two tight contests in the opening two matches, which is exactly what we need at this time”.

A double from Kathryn Slattery and strikes by Mariah Williams and Ashleigh Nelson helped the Hockeyroos to a 4-3 win over Great Britain on Friday night, but the series was pegged level on Sunday when Susie Gilbert’s only goal of the game settled the tie 1-0 in Britain’s favour.

Ratcliffe earned an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship late last yearand moved to Perth at the end of the Januaryto begin training alongside the Australian national senior squad.

Shewas named in the national development squad for 2016 after a year that delivered a gold medal atthe under 21 national championships with Victoria anda runner-up finish in the under 18 national championships.

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