Last week saw the culmination of the season for both the under 18 and U14 girls who had qualified for the National Finals at Lee Valley in the Olympic Park. The U18 competition took place over two days and the first pool game was going to be a tough one against Trent with their England keeper who did indeed have a good game. They were strong in midfield too, but once we had scored we settled down and scored another in the second half to get off to a winning 2-0 start. Our second match pitted us against Queens and we scored two goals to take control of the game. A goal for them on the break ten minutes from time made it closer than it really was, but we secured a 2-1 victory to sit top of the pool at the end of the first day. Buoyed by a coach load of supporters, we then put Leeds Grammar to the sword, 3-0, to set up a final against Stockport who had beaten reigning champions Repton 2-1 in the other pool. We got off to the worst possible start as we conceded in the first minute, but then we got into our stride and played some excellent hockey. We kept hammering away at them, having 11 shots to their 3 in the game, but their keeper was in inspired form. It was a great spectacle with some formidable skills displayed by both sides, but we just couldn’t score. I’m sure our fantastic support was just as proud as I was of the girl’s performance and knowing them as I do, I’ve no doubt that they will return next year with the desire to do even better.
The under 14s started their campaign the day after the under 18s. The first pool game was against Framlingham and they were unable to cope with our pace and skills. Although they scored near the end, we had already scored 4! The only downside was an injury to Autumn Brown that turned out to be a fractured cheekbone and unfortunately no further involvement for the rest of the tournament. The next game was a tough one versus Blundells who were particularly strong in midfield and had beaten Repton in their first game. They went ahead in the first half with a good finish, but we came out in the second half with a new plan and renewed energy. We kept pressing and were rewarded with the equaliser. A 1-1 draw meant any of three teams could reach the final. Our last pool game against Repton was a really tight contest. 0-0 at half time for us and also for Blundells in the other game. We broke the deadlock just five minutes before the end to record a really good 1-0 win and secure a place in the final. So a very tough group left us with a final against our local rivals St George’s whom we had beaten in both the Surreys and the Regional heats. Almost a carbon copy of the previous day’s final for the under 18s saw the opposition score a good goal after only a minute of the game, but we got straight back into it. We created twice as many chances, but were just not able to get that equalising goal. Once again the performance to create so many opportunities was excellent and once again we were really proud of the girls.