25 November 2015

U14 Girls Hockey qualify for national play-offs

Share article:

The U14 squad were placed second in the East of England Regional finals on Tuesday 24 November and have qualified for the national single-match play-off in the new year.

On a blustery and chilly day, the U14 Girls travelled up to Redbridge in Essex for the final stage of regional finals against the other three top school teams from the East of England. The format was round-robin, with the winner being guaranteed qualification for national finals in March, and the runner-up having one further chance to qualify, via play-offs. A top-two finish was therefore the goal. No easy task against some seriously tough opposition.

Our first match was against The Leys School, Cambridge. We had seen them play at the first stage of regionals, and knew that they were a very good team, with one particularly strong right midfielder. How we dealt with her would be key to the outcome of the match, and Juliette Briery was given the unenviable task of marking her out of the game. We started strongly, playing at great pace. We took all free hits very early, drawing fouls from our opponents, and rattling the Leys team. After five minutes we executed an incisive move down the right through Floss Adcock, and her cross was brilliantly deflected high into the roof of the net by Coco Streets. The ideal start.

The Leys came back strongly, and despite Juliette’s best efforts, their outstanding player proved a handful, and was a constant threat. We were relieved to see a brilliant reverse stick strike fly over our crossbar, and our goal-keeper Charlotte Imbert also saved from close range. Eventually the pressure told, and after a mazy, skilful run, she scored a deserved equaliser. The rest of the game was tight, with chances at both ends. But with seven minutes remaining, Juliette herself found some space in the D and fired home an excellent second. Sevenoaks then controlled the remaining minutes, running down the clock professionally, and were overjoyed at the final whistle. A great start to the tournament, and what would prove to be a crucial win.

The second match was against Bedford Girls. They had lost their first match 6-0, so we were expecting them to come out fighting, and they certainly were no rollover. Our performance didn’t quite hit the heights of our first match against The Leys, but nonetheless, the girls played solid hockey. Phoebe Buckland scored an excellent first goal with a cool finish from the left after a well-worked move from midfield, and Kate Nicholls added a deserved second just after half-time. These matches are all too easy to lose or draw at regional finals, so another win under the belt was the main thing. As news filtered through from the other pitch, it became clear that our opponents in the final match, Kent College, had beaten the Leys 5-2. These results guaranteed both Sevenoaks and Kent College the top two places.

The third match therefore was a simple showdown between Sevenoaks and Kent College for the automatic spot at nationals. Kent College had a superior goal difference from the first two matches, so Sevenoaks had to win. We had met them in the final of the Kent Championships in October, and had been narrowly beaten on penalties after a 2-2 draw. We knew that we could beat them. We shuffled our formation a bit to try to neutralise their two strong players in the middle of the pitch. This was reasonably successful, but nonetheless, Sevenoaks were under constant pressure in the first half, and only two outstanding reaction saves from Charlotte Imbert kept the scores level. A minute before half-time, the deadlock was broken by Kent College, and Sevenoaks now needed to score twice.

We threw caution to the wind in the second half with a very attacking formation, knowing this would necessarily mean leaving more space at the back. We sadly gave the ball away in midfield in the first minute of the second half, and were punished by an incisive run and another outstanding finish. Three goals in the 14 minutes that remained was a tall order. Nonetheless, we dominated that period, and had 5-6 excellent chances to score. Our composure let us down a bit, and their keeper made some great saves too. But the effort from the girls cannot be faulted. The match finished 2-0 to Kent College, who on balance thoroughly deserved to go through to nationals (having won all their matches on the day, scoring 13 goals and conceding just two). The whole squad played a full part, and there were many great performances by individuals not mentioned above.

Our girls, however, should be very proud of their hard-won second place, and can now look forward to an exciting single play-off match in the new year, with the winner going on to the national finals. They have beaten some very, very good teams along the way, and continue to improve. The adventure continues!


Squad (goals scored in brackets):

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

Share article:

Back to all news