Despite winning a number of national hockey titles in recent years, we have never yet managed to win the trophy at U18 level for girls, either outdoor or indoor. At Bromsgrove School, late on Sunday afternoon, and after a gruelling schedule of six matches in two days, the Cranleigh U18 Girls’ team were crowned National Indoor Champions for the first time.
Saturday saw two relatively easy victories in our first pool matches against Bromsgrove School (3-0) and Queen Elizabeth, Cumbria (4-0). The 9am Sunday morning match against King’s Bruton, many of whom had been in the under 16s that had beaten us in the final of the 16s last season, was however critical – a loss would have put us in serious danger of not making the semi-finals. Supported by a dedicated team of spectators, including the Headmaster and two Housemistresses, the girls produced a stunning first half performance, scoring 5 goals and cruised to a 7-0 victory. Watching this match and the subsequent few matches from the other pool, it became apparent that we had an excellent squad with no weaknesses; this proved to be crucial as Sunday evolved.
The final pool match against Framlingham was a low-key affair, with both teams already qualified for the semi-finals, with the main aim being to conserve energy and stay injury-free. We had about 80% of possession and a lot of practice in breaking down a deep defence which proved useful. A 2-1 win ensured a place in the first semi-final.
The other pool was an extremely tight affair that included three draws and any of four sides able to qualify for the semi-finals with the last two matches left. Requiring a win to qualify, our fellow South regional qualifiers, Beaconsfield High, had a nail-biting 3-3 draw with Kent College in the penultimate game. Trent were unable to score enough goals in the final pool game, so Kent College emerged as runners-up of pool B on goal difference and thus our opponents in the semi-final.
Another outstanding squad performance produced an emphatic 6-0 victory against Kent College in the semi-final, whilst the other semi-final was a thriller. Dean Close were three up at half-time but Framlingham fought back and drew level with less than a minute to go, winning on penalty flicks.
So to the final and a rematch with Framlingham. They were organised with their deep defence and once again we had the majority of possession, but they scored on their first breakout to take the lead. It wasn’t long before the equaliser was scored, and we went into the half-time break at 1-1.
Another breakaway goal from Framlingham early in the second-half, and we then had a battle on our hands. A change in formation yielded a short corner from which we scored to tie the game at 2-2 with just over five minutes to go. We then scored off another short corner to make it 3-2 with two and a half minutes on the clock. Framlingham pressured us and a great interception just off our goal-line led to us breaking away and getting another short corner with less than a minute to go. Once again a perfectly executed routine earned us the goal that gave us a 4-2 lead and secured an historic victory.
Richard Organ, Director of Hockey commented:
“We are very proud of the whole squad who thoroughly deserved the success they achieved. It was great to have so much support there to see them produce such outstanding displays of skill, determination and discipline.”
The squad consisted of: Zoe Allchurch, Ella Bounous, Laura Graham, Coca Hall, Rosie Hope, Pippa Lock, Izzy Petter, Millie Regan, Fifi Robinson, Amy Thompson.