U12 Girls Qualify for the National Finals
The U12 girls started their regional campaign against Saffron Walden. Fearing a slow start we were out on the pitch early and spirits were high. A super start saw us 2 – 0 up at half-time (both from Anna) with the game well in control. However, the second half was a very different story and disappointingly we let the lead slip with the game ending 2-2. Next up were an amazingly strong unit from Sevenoaks. We nearly caught them napping in the first few seconds but from then on we had to work really hard to hold them at bay with the final score a 3 – 0 loss. So with 2 matches played and only a draw against our name we knew that it would have to be wins all the way from then on if we were to make the semis. Next up was St Albans and now the girls were starting to move nicely into gear, passing the ball around well and stretching the game out wide. The final score was a 4 – 0 win (Amie 1, Anna 1 and Beth 2) though one of Beth’s goals from a metre out only just had enough pace to make it over the line! Blue Hornets were our next opponents and Harleston were quickly on the scoreboard with a goal from Amie, but this was quickly followed by us conceding to a penalty stroke and so scores were back level again. Luckily the girls did not panic and were soon back in their rhythm with lots of well worked goals and the match finishing 5-1 in our favour. Now only Bury stood in our way for a place in the semi-finals. Due to our superior goal difference a draw would be enough but the girls were certainly going all out for the win. There were excellent finished from Anna and Amie – and arguably an even better one from a poor Bury defender. Even Alicia from the back was trying to get in on the action with a storming run.
So we had made it to the semi-final, but as runners-up in our pool it meant we would face Cambridge City who had won every match in their pool. Despite Cambridge coming at us hard we kept our shape and managed to take an early lead (Beth) and then for the rest of the half we struggled to get out of our half under relentless pressure and umpteen short corners! As we started the second half it seemed it would be only a matter of time before Cambridge took one of the many chances they created but our defence held strong and Georgia pulled off the most amazing save to tip a fiercely struck shot over the cross bar. Having survived this barrage the game became more open and Anna put Evie through to complete a tremendous 2 – 0 win.
And so we had made it to the Final – not an easy journey by any means and the supporters had certainly gained some grey hairs along the way. This meant that we had qualified for the Nationals, but also that we had to face Sevenoaks again to decide who would be East champions. We were hoping that if we could keep it tight at the start and spoil their wonderful attacking play we might be in with a shout but sadly Sevenoaks were very much in form and passed the ball around beautifully so we were unable on the day to match it, going down heavily in the end. Disappointment was short lived however as the girls were soon celebrating their achievement in reaching the national Finals in 2 weeks time.
A massive thank you to everyone at Harleston that made the day run so smoothly and to all our supporters for withstanding such awful conditions and remaining cheerful to the end!
Squad: Georgia, Harriet, Alicia, Tilly, Natalie, Emily, Amie, Anna, Evie, Beth