14 October 2015

U14 County Hockey Championships

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Our U14 girls yesterday were simply outstanding yesterday at the county championships, and despite not quite taking the title, have qualified for the regional finals in November.

After encouraging preparation in the build up to the Kent tournament, a quiet confidence had been growing in the team. The girls knew that if they were disciplined and played to their potential, then they could match any team in the county. And on the day, they exceeded all expectations.

Having lost 3-1 to King’s Canterbury just 48 hours before, the girls were fired up for a second meeting in their first group match. After 15 frenetic minutes of top-class hockey, the score remained 0-0, and it would now depend on the other matches to see who would top the group for a potentially easier route to the final in the afternoon knockout stages. We won our remaining group games 4-0, 1-0 and 2-0, but were beaten into second place in the group by Canterbury, who also won their remaining games, but scored one goal more.

That set up a tough quarter-final against a very strong Sutton Valence team. Having scored an early goal, Sevenoaks maintained a constant attacking threat, while digging deep to repel everything that their opponents could throw at them, eventually holding on for a deserved 1-0 win.

There was great celebration at the final whistle, knowing that we had now secured a slightly easier semi-final. The girls took nothing for granted however, and were thoroughly professional in their 3-0 victory over Cranbrook. Qualification for regionals (in November) was now guaranteed!

In the final, we met Kent College, who up till this point had scored over 25 goals, and let in none. But full of confidence, our girls took a deserved 1-0 lead early on, and despite conceding an equaliser soon after, bounced back to retake the lead 2-1. The rest of the match was closely fought, with chances at both ends. But with just one minute left on the clock, our girls were desperately unlucky to concede an equaliser from a well worked short corner.

Ten minutes of extra time followed. By this point, our girls were much the better team, with our fitness and teamwork really telling. But we just couldn’t get the winner. At the final whistle, and after over two hours of exhausting, committed hockey, it went to penalty ‘shuffles’ and the more experienced Kent College side came out on top to take the title. However, both teams now go through to regionals, and this group of players, who just kept getting better and better with every match, can look forward with confidence to the challenges ahead.

In many ways it feels wrong to pick out individuals, but Charlotte Imbert was inspirational in goal, Rosie Peachey was a rock in defence, Juliette Briery and Ellie Parton worked ceaselessly in midfield, and Coco Streets and Floss Adcock (amongst others) scored crucial goals in the big games. But there were heroes all over the pitch. I don’t know if I’ve seen a better team performance in my time at Sevenoaks.

Squad (goals in brackets): C Imbert, G Stephens, R Peachey (2), E Roberts, R Talbot, J Briery, E Parton (1), C Morgan (1), S Anderson, C Streets (4), K Nicholls, F Adcock (3), P Buckland (1), M Li (1), E Price, E Williams  



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