You Bea-uty Utri!

Aisling Utri won a flag with the Western Bulldogs AFLW team in 2018, and last week the VIS scholarship holder fulfilled her dream of representing her country as a Hockeyroo in a three-test series against India in Adelaide.

A largely inexperienced Hockeyroos team featuring five debutantes, including Utri and fellow VIS hockey athlete Olivia Downes, took care of business in Adelaide claiming the three-match series 2-0.

The Roos stunned their more experienced opponents in the opening game of the series in a stirring 4-2 win. All four of the home side’s goals coming in a 14-minute burst, including a classy deflection from Utri.

In game two, the Aussies produced a gritty performance to secure a character-filled come from behind 3-2 victory, and played out a 1-1 draw in the final match of series.

“It was amazing! It was so much fun and I was so lucky to be able to do it with Liv also. I think after all the years of training and trying to get this opportunity to finally have it, it was really surreal.” Said Utri.

"And to score on debut….oh my lanta! It was so cool. As a classic striker I just love scoring so it was so nice and pretty cool to be honest. But overall, it was just so much fun. Dreams do come true!” Utri added   

Nature gifted Utri with the coordination, intelligence and love of putting the ball in the back of net. She turned in a monster 2022 season, topping the Premier League’s scorers in Essendon Hockey Club’s Premiership-winning campaign.

Winning that Premiership was one of the crowning achievements of Utri’s career thus far.

Rewind five years, Utri’s stint at the Whitten Oval was short-lived but memorable; she was named an AFLW Rising Star and played an integral part in the Doggies’ 2018 Premiership winning campaign.

At that stage in her career, Utri’s entire life was a delicate balancing act as she juggled sport and study. On top of the 14 AFLW games for the Bulldogs, participation in Premier League and international hockey with Essendon HC and the Jillaroos (Australian U21s) respectively, she was completing her Masters of Physiotherapy at La Trobe University.

“It got a bit hectic, there were lots of moving parts to try to make it work and it would get exhausting at times,” she said.  

In 2020 the clash that existed became too much to handle and she made the tough decision to move away from football and focus solely on hockey to give herself the best chance to make it to the next level.

An outstanding individual on and off the field, her hard work, focus and dedication saw the 25-year-old finally achieve her goal to don the green and gold – and she’s not done yet!

Next up on the menu for the Hockeyroos are four Pro League contests against world No. 1 Netherlands and sixth-ranked Belgium in Eindhoven and Antwerp from 8 – 20 June. Get through that and the business of Paris follows, with a trio of tests in August against New Zealand in Whangārei, which double as Olympic qualifiers.

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