U14 Hockey girls qualify for regional finals (stage 1)

Yesterday, against some top teams from the East of England, our U14 hockey team showed grit, determination and panache to win all four of their matches, scoring ten goals in two hours of hockey, and conceding none, to qualify for the final stage of regionals.

In the first stage of the East Regional Hockey Finals, 16 teams (all of whom finished first or second in their respective counties) are reduced to four. Eight of these 16 teams met in Ipswich, with two progressing to the second regional stage (the final stage before nationals).

The morning’s play consisted of two pools of round-robin matches. Our first match was against Framlingham. We knew this was likely to be our toughest match, and our girls started at a ferocious pace. We played superbly, carving out a number of chances, and were utterly clinical in front of goal. Two goals from excellent short-corner strikes from Rosie Peachey and two cool breakaway finishes from Kate Nicholls and Floss Adcock left our talented opponents shell-shocked, and gave us a flying 4-0 start to the day.

Our second match was against Stamford High. After a tight first ten minutes, Michelle Li scored from close range just before half-time, and another short corner strike from Rosie Peachey settled the nerves soon after the break. In the final moments, a lovely finish from Ellie Price after a well-worked move down the right completed a comprehensive 3-0 win.

A draw now, against Bishop’s Stortford, would guarantee that we would go through as group winners, leading to a potentially slightly easier afternoon knock-out match. Perhaps for the first time in the day, the girls’ performance levels dropped, and they struggled to cope with their feisty opponents. They rode their luck at times, and midway through the second half a goal from Floss Adcock turned the tide in our favour. The match remained tight, but finished 1-0 to Sevenoaks.

We now had a couple of hours to recuperate and prepare for the knock-out match versus The Perse School. The winner would qualify for the final stage of regionals. The first half was incredibly competitive, with both sides having chances. Our defence struggled to cope with their attacking system initially and, although we created a number of good chances ourselves, at half-time the teams remained locked at 0-0. Sevenoaks, having already played 110 minutes of hockey, summoned up final reserves of energy to dominate the second half. Another goal from Floss Adcock just after the restart was no less than they deserved, and two minutes later we scored an outstanding second, finished by Michelle Li, after a devastating move that started in the heart of our defence. There was still time for drama, and our goalkeeper Charlotte Imbert capped a superb all-round display with a miraculous one-on-one save when their centre-forward seemed certain to score and pull one back.

There was much joy at the final whistle, and the second stage of regional finals now awaits. They will play the three other best teams in the East of England on 24 November. The winner will go to nationals. It will be tough, but on this evidence, Sevenoaks has good reason to approach it with confidence. The whole squad played a full part, and there were many heroic performances by individuals not mentioned above. They drew compliments all day from the umpires and spectators alike for their unselfish all-round team play.

Squad below (goals scored in brackets).

Floss Adcock (3), Sophia Anderson, Juliette Briery, Phoebe Buckland, Charlotte Imbert, Michelle Li (2), Claire Morgan, Kate Nicholls (1), Ellie Parton, Rosie Peachey (3), Ellie Price (1), Ella Roberts, Georgie Stephens, Coco Streets, Rosie Talbot, Ellie Williams 

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