Our U14 Girls’ Hockey team travelled to the Lee Valley Olympic Park as champions of the new South East region along with seven other regional winners.
Starting their ‘group of death’ against an Ipswich side containing a couple of talented Germans, both sides took a few minutes to adjust to the sodden pitch and its slow pace. Ipswich had a strong midfield that meant they had a bit more possession but it wasn’t creating clear cut chances. On the breakaway Charlotte dived and did well to force a save from their keeper. 0-0 at halftime but a couple of minutes into the second half a fantastic solo dribble beating five players by one of their stars set up the first goal. Cranleigh came roaring back and applied enough pressure to get two short corners right at the end of the game but their keeper made an excellent save and Ipswich ran out winners in a very close game.
Next up were Surbiton High who dominated the first half creating numerous opportunities and finally netting just before halftime. They continued to dominate the game at the start of the second half but the girls dug in and kept defending well as a team. Then a breakaway with seven minutes to go and some hard, crisp passing led to a good finish by Martha. 1-1 and we held on to record a great result.
Then to our old foes Repton who had drawn with Surbiton having been two up and having a stroke saved and then drawn with Ipswich. It was all to play for. Repton also dominated in the first half but once again Cranleigh defended with determination. Their right midfield and deep centre mid played very well in the second half but still we refused to give in. in the last two minutes as Repton were pushing for the critical goal we had two breakaways, one of which somehow eluded everyone in the D and the score remained 0-0 – another top quality result.
So two draws and a single goal loss to the best three sides in the competition …. and we were bottom of our group – bizarre. The classification match against Grammar School at Leeds was unsurprisingly fairly comfortable and we were one up by halftime through Eliza. Isla then netted a minute into the second half and this remained the final score. As a measure of just how imbalanced the groups were, Surbiton easily beat Wellington 3-0 in the final and Ipswich beat Millfield 3-1 in the bronze medal match.
This group of girls have been outstanding in their commitment and determination over the course of this season and should be very proud of what they have achieved. Their development both individually and as a team has been a joy to watch and bodes well for the future.
Squad: Evie A., Katie A., Charlotte B., Flora C., Martha C., Grace C.n, Bea F., Isla G., Grace J., Maddy K., Eliza L., Ruby M., Martha R., Lucy S., Mary S., Ella S.