U14A Hockey team win Kent County Tournament

On Monday 9 October, our U14A girls Hockey team headed to the county tournament in Canterbury. Expectations and confidence were high after a strong run of excellent results in recent matches against a number of traditionally strong schools on our circuit. We were in a morning round-robin pool of five teams, and immediately stamped our authority on the group with an excellent 3-0 win against Kent College Pembury, courtesy of goals from Elena Tsang, Natalya Keller and Abi Scott. We then beat Colfes by the same scoreline, with two more goals from Abi, and a tremendous strike from Eva McDonagh.

As the morning progressed, we continued to play stylish hockey, beating Sir Roger Manwood’s 2-0 and St Edmunds 4-0, thanks to another goal apiece for Abi and Eva, a goal for our superb right midfielder Annabel Cheveley, and three coolly taken goals from the dynamic Natalya Keller.

We finished with a 100% record, 12 goals scored and none conceded from an hour's hockey, and confidence high for the afternoon knockout stages. Our quarter-final opponents were Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls, who had come second in their very strong morning group. They had one particularly strong player in the middle, but we adapted our shape very effectively in order to neutralise that threat. Maddie Wise man-marked wonderfully and Keira Bassett was a rock at sweeper, as she was all day. Our opponents struggled to cope with our pace and slick skills down the right, and Abi Scott settled nerves with an early goal. Captain Venetia Barker then scored a deserved second with a trademark strike from a short corner. Although our opponents got a goal back from a well-worked short corner, our girls remained calm and focused, and when Abi Scott once more slotted home after a slick breakaway, a 3-1 win was sealed.

Winning the semi-final against a strong St Laurence side would guarantee a place at Regional Finals. Again, our girls started magnificently, putting their opponents under a barrage of pressure, both from the right flank and from the left through the tireless running of Lulu Stephens. Telia Green got a deserved first goal to break the deadlock, and despite the opposition coach cracking our short-corner codes they could do little to stop another laser-guided strike from Venetia Barker. All 16 members of the squad played their part in this crucial match, and Abi Scott added the icing on the cake with a cool finish in the final minutes, having been picked out by a phenomenal pass from Natalya Keller. 3-0 was a fair result, and a final against Kent College Canterbury was the reward.

Kent College are always a quality outfit, but they too had no answer to our disciplined defence, our tenacious midfield and our rampaging forward line. Our girls dominated the final, and ultimately it was two deserved goals from our captain Venetia Barker that separated the two teams. The first was a coolly taken penalty stroke, and the second was another clinical short corner strike. The girls were overjoyed at the final whistle, and can look back on a job well done.

Twenty goals scored, only one conceded, and every match won by at least two clear goals. All 16 girls in the squad contributed 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.

Squad (goals in brackets): Alice Reeve (GK), Alex Evans, Isabella Osborne, Keira Bassett, Maddie Wise, Eva McDonagh (2), Venetia Barker (4), Annabel Cheveley (1), Elena Tsang (1), Natalya Keller (4), Abi Scott (7), Ellie Langford, Megan Handy, Eloise Simpson, Lulu Stephens, Telia Green (1) 

Jon Drury

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