U14 Hockey team are county champions

Expectations and confidence were high at the Kent County Tournament after some excellent results in recent matches against a number of traditionally strong schools on our circuit. 

We had three pool matches in the morning, and immediately stamped our authority on the group, and the tournament, with an excellent 5-0 win against Bromley. The team’s shape was excellent, and our opposition had no answer to our slick passing and clinical finishing. Captain Esther Adcock and Summer Knight-Thompson scored two goals apiece, with Phoebe Gough Cooper adding a marvellous fifth. Our second group match was also straightforward, as we beat Colfe’s by the same scoreline, 5-0, as Summer continued her rich vein of form with two superbly taken goals in the first 5 minutes. Throughout the match, our attacking press looked superb, with Amber Croll and Harriet Medlen creating constant pressure on their beleaguered back line. More goals followed from Phoebe and Esther, and a fantastic fifth from Bella Munoz, after a tremendous run and unselfish pass from Phoebe. In our final match, we faced TWGGS, who defended resolutely, and limited us to a 3-0 victory, with a great goal from Isla McCulloch, another cool finish by Summer and a fabulous flick into the far corner from Phoebe. Confidence was justifiably high for the knockout stages.

Our quarter-final opponents were King’s Canterbury, whom we had hammered 14-0 just two days before. However, they had come up with a few plans to stifle our creativity, and things remained tight. A super penalty flick by Summer after five minutes settled our nerves, and after that the girls played patiently, with our back four of Annabel Nuijens, Annabel Porter, Camilla Eerdmans and Felicity Yates looking extremely solid, moving the ball around with great finesse. Tess Hunter had another strong game at right midfield, playing some lovely passes forward, and eventually the pressure resulted in a second goal, also for Summer. The game finished 2-0, and we now moved forward with confidence into the semis.

Winning the semi-final against St Lawrence would guarantee a place at regional finals. Again, our girls started magnificently, really taking the game to St Lawrence, who defended stoically, and whose goalkeeper made several super saves. After 13 minutes (of 20) it was still 0-0, and Sevenoaks continued to press. After a couple of short corners, the ball popped up to Phoebe on the right of the D and she crashed home a great strike through a crowd of players. The lead was slim, and Sevenoaks had to survive a couple of late scares, but survive they did, thanks to some excellent interventions from our goalkeeper, Liv de Pury. A final against a talented Weald of Kent team, and a guaranteed place at Regional Finals was the reward.

Weald had two or three very talented players and it was a tight match. But Sevenoaks definitely had the upper hand throughout, and their attacking press was formidable, as it had been all day, led by Summer, Esther and Amelie Tsang. Despite constant pressure and several shots saved by their goalkeeper (not all of which she knew about) the first goal simply wouldn’t come. With a minute to go, Weald got into our D for only the second time after a good attack down the left, and won a short corner. Despite a slick routine, our corner defence team were up to the task, and cleared their lines. The match finished 0-0, and the county title would therefore be decided on penalty flicks.

The girls had looked very good at flicks in training, and we did wonderfully well to score 4 of our 5 flicks against a really good keeper (Summer, Bella, Annabel Nuijens and Esther all scored, with Annabel Porter desperately unlucky to see hers saved excellently by the Weald keeper). Weald also scored 4 or their 5 flicks, with our GK Liv making one excellent save, and being unlucky not to save another. It now moved to sudden-death flicks. Summer coolly scored her third flick of the day, to heap the pressure on Weald’s strongest player. This time, Liv read the flick perfectly, saving wide to her right. The girls were overjoyed, and can look back on a job well done – this was a tournament they thoroughly deserved to win.

Sixteen goals scored, none conceded, and high quality hockey throughout, that was a pleasure to watch. All 15 girls in the squad contributed fully throughout the day, and it is this depth of talent as well as some outstanding individual performances that fill us with confidence as we now look forward to the first round of regional finals in November.

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