Sevenoaks are U14 England Schools Hockey finalists

On Thursday 21 January, Sevenoaks School hosted their U14 National Hockey Finals play-off match against Bromsgrove School.  The teams had finished second in the East and the Midlands regional finals respectively, and the winner would take one of the two remaining places at the National Finals in March.  

Right from the start of the warm-up, Sevenoaks were fully focussed on the job in hand.  They began the match at a ferocious pace, which has become a real hallmark of their play this year.  Bromsgrove were immediately on the back foot, and had to repel several Sevenoaks attacks in the first five minutes.  Floss Adcock had some early success against their left back, and a couple of crosses fizzed across the face of goal, with Coco Streets and Kate Nicholls inches away from getting the crucial touch.

Bromsgrove played with a very fluid formation, which made marking difficult initially, but the Sevenoaks defence and particularly the midfield adapted well to what was demanded of them.   However, against the run of play, and with their first real attack of the game, one of the Bromsgrove midfielders drove dangerously across the top of our D, and unleashed a ferocious and highly skilful reverse stick shot, which flew into the roof of the Sevenoaks net, giving defender and keeper no chance.   Sevenoaks found themselves 1-0 down.

To their credit, the Sevenoaks girls stuck to their task in the same manner as they had in the first 5 minutes, confident that their chances would come.  In midfield, Juliette Briery’s pace and Ellie Parton’s close control and distribution continued to cause problems.  A few half chances came and went.  Then, Sevenoaks engineered a clear break-away down the right.  A Bromsgrove defender cynically scythed down Floss Adcock, and a penalty stroke was awarded.  Our captain, Rosie Peachey, stepped up, and showed remarkable composure to despatch an unstoppable flick with power and accuracy into the bottom corner.  This was no less than Sevenoaks deserved, and it served to buoy them as they pressed hard before half-time.  Sophia Anderson and Claire Morgan kept things tight in midfield and Phoebe Buckland and Michelle Li linked well upfront.  But a second goal would not come.

Click here to see the photos from the game

The girls maintained their extremely high level of play in the second half.  Our defensive trio of Georgie Stephens, Ellie Price and Rosie Talbot continued to mark their attackers out of the game, limiting Bromsgrove to sporadic attacks from midfield.  After seven minutes, Sevenoaks made the crucial breakthrough.  Floss Adcock once again got the better of the Bromsgrove left-back, and drove into the D, before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Coco Streets to finish from close range.  A slender 2-1 lead, but Sevenoaks were now dominating play and were firmly in the driving seat. 

Nonetheless, Bromsgrove had two very strong midfielders, who continued to cause us trouble.  One drove brilliantly into the Sevenoaks D with 15 minutes remaining, and fired another incredible reverse-stick shot towards goal…  only to see the Sevenoaks goal-keeper, Charlotte Imbert (who had already made several crucial saves) produce the moment of the match:  a brilliant reflex save to deflect the initial shot onto the crossbar, and then, as the ball fell at the feet of the Bromsgrove centre-forward, she had the presence of mind and bravery to throw herself in front of the second shot, deflecting the ball off for a corner.   The home team had survived, much to the delight of the army of friends, parents and teachers on the sidelines.

Sevenoaks fought hard as the minutes ticked down, and remained the better team with the clearer chances.  But neither team was quite able to take the opportunities they had.  Rosie Peachey, our sweeper, was the outstanding player on the pitch, and continued to deal with everything Bromsgrove could throw at her.  The Sevenoaks girls coolly kept possession in the final minutes, and their joy at the final whistle was unconfined.  It is a match that these girls will never forget. 

A place at the National Hockey Finals in March (for the top 8 school teams in the country) is a remarkable achievement, yet richly deserved by this talented, dedicated and incredibly hard-working bunch of girls.

Squad below:

Charlotte Imbert, Georgie Stephens, Rosie Peachey, Ella Roberts, Rosie Talbot, Juliette Briery, Ellie Parton, Claire Morgan, Sophia Anderson, Coco Streets, Kate Nicholls, Floss Adcock, Phoebe Buckland, Michelle Li, Ellie Price, Ellie Williams   

 

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