On Sat 8th April the U10A girls successfully retained their Regional title in an exciting afternoon’s play at Harleston. It was going to be a tough challenge as with pools of 6 with only one to go through to the Final we knew that every result was going to be important.
First up were Blueharts, who proved to be a very competitive outfit. Harleston went 1-0 down early on but showed great character in not panicking and by half-time we were back in the game at 1-1. Their keeper played well to keep out many good opportunities that fell to our forwards and the score stayed at 1-1. The next challenge was to keep the girls cool and rested in quite a long break in which they seemed intent on injuring themselves trying to skateboard down a steep bank, but after that first break matches started to come in quick succession.
Next up was Chelmsford, who had kept Sevenoaks who were one of our main threats to a draw, so the 3-0 win that we got gave the team a real boost when we knew that it might come down to goal difference in the end. Against Sudbury the team kept their shape well which was important as Sudbury defended well and crowded the player on the ball. The final score was a 4-0 win which again gave our goal difference a good boost compared to others in the pool.
Two games to go and we knew that 2 wins would see us to the final but Cambridge City proved a hard nut to crack. We had moved from sand to water and it took the girls a little time to adjust. We found ourselves under pressure and facing a short corner but their striker mis-cued and Beth thankfully drove the full length of the pitch, went round the keeper and slotted it home to the great relief of all the supporters. Harleston eventually came out 2-0 winners and thus we faced our last pool match, against Sevenoaks, knowing a draw for us was enough and a win for Sevenoaks would take them through. Their right forward caused us all sorts of problems but Nat and Daisy just put enough pressure on her to make sure she could not deliver quality crosses. At 2-0 up we were almost home and dry when Sevenoaks pulled one back and pressurised us to the end but our defence held firm and the match finished 2-1.
What a tough group it had been and the girls had given everything to get to the final – would they have anything left was the question. After just a short break we took to the field against the other group winners Old Loughtonians and we need not have feared that the girls were done for the afternoon. In fact, they saved some of their finest hockey for this game with everyone playing at their best. We looked solid in defence with Rebekah in goal and Catherine, Daisy and Harriet covering all the threats, Amber and Natalie continued to cover huge amount of ground on the wings covering both defence and attack really effectively, Emily and Ophelia gave some great options with their leads up front and Beth continued to dispatch short corners to take the pressure off. The 3-0 win was a fitting end to a great afternoon’s efforts by all the girls.
Beth and I have been with the U10s for 3 years now and would like to thank everyone at the club for the tremendous support. Yesterday epitomised what a supportive club it is with many familiar faces coming along to support the team and there was so much great work going on behind the scenes to make the day run so smoothly.Thanks to Duncan who came to watch and ended up helping me out on the side-line which was much appreciated. A massive thanks in particular to Nick McAllen for all his work with the girls this season and especially for his good humour at the Friday night coaching sessions, week in week out, come rain or shine (mostly rain this year – the only shine was the very last session!).