The season came to a conclusion over two days at Lee Valley on the Olympic Park with the girls drawing 2-2 against Millfield in a thrilling game of hockey.
The season started in earnest at the end of September with seven Tier 1 league matches before Christmas. First up were Gordons, new to this level, and we put 10 past them. The following week with five players out with injury and illness we lost out 2-3 to a good Bedes side in a tight game. Borlase were beaten 5-2 a week later with a very good second half performance after a tight first half.
After Long Leave the crunch game against Reeds was a close affair. We dominated a lot of the possession but they scored two great breakaway goals to lead 1-0 and 2-1 after our equaliser. We pressed hard and managed to get another equaliser and then the winner to complete a very tough 3-2 victory. The following two weeks saw wins against St George’s and St John’s – an early goal against St George’s was enough to seal a 1-0 victory whilst a very strong first half against St John’s yielded three goals before their consolation goal at the end of the match. This lead to our final league match away to Wellington. Once again dominating possession we were hit on the break a number of times and kept having to come from behind but we didn’t panic and a couple of goals in the last 10 minutes gave us a very hard fought 4-3 victory.
With Reeds and Bedes drawing, we topped the division leading to a home quarter final against Kingston Grammar…. and what a game it was. We were under pressure from the start and Kingston could have scored early on but Pippi scored a stunning individual goal with a finish into the top left corner to give us the lead. Numerous saves by Liv in goal and no less than five clearances off the line kept us in it until a breakout from defence by Siena with her running 50 metres before crossing to a sliding Eliza who expertly deflected in to give us an amazing 2-0 win.
So after an aborted attempt to play Dean Close at Reading, we met at Lee Valley in the semi. It was a full-on game. They scored after a dozen minutes but just before half time Liv M. fired in a short corner to equalise. They scored again five minutes into the second half but Liv replied again five minutes later. Somehow the intensity got even higher and they scored their third halfway through the half. The game went back and forth with Cranleigh putting together some really nice passing moves down the right whilst Dean Close continued to smack the ball into our D in order to get a deflection or corner. With just a couple of minutes to go we crossed the ball tantalisingly just out of our reach for another equalising goal.
The following day saw an early start against Millfield, another determined and physical West Country side. They scored after five minutes and we took time to get up to their pace of game. Still one down at half time, we performed really well in the second half with Eliza and Boau-Lilly grabbing goals to put us in the lead before they scored a great reverse stick strike into the top right corner. They started to rack up the cards – five in the second half – and we mounted almost continuous pressure on their goal to try to force the winner. It remained 2-2 – an honourable draw in another thrilling game of hockey.
It has been a fantastic season in which the team has shown real character in having to come back from being a goal or two down in a number of games and it’s been a real squad effort as we’ve covered for injuries and illness at various times. A bronze outdoors and a silver indoors is a just reward for the effort, commitment and no lack of skill shown by this group of players.
Squad for the whole competition: Skye B., Ruby B., Liv B., Milly C., Katie C., Bea E., Liv F., Liv G., Mattie H., Siena K., Georgie L., Tory L., Liv M., Immy P., Jess R., India S., Boau-Lilly S., Grace S., Pippi S., Eliza W.