Under 12 Girls finish the season on a high with 4th place in the National Finals at Nottingham...
The England Hockey National competition started at the County level where the top two County qualifiers went on to one of five Regions across the country. The top two finishers in each Region earned a place in the National Finals being hosted at Beeston Hockey Club in Nottingham.
As Runner-up from the South region, we were in a pool with the Regional Winners from the Midlands and the West, and with the Runners-Up from the East and the North. Hopes were high, but we were determined to enjoy the weekend whatever happened.
Ten teams were competing and there were no cross-over matches (1st in one pool played 1st in the other for Gold, 2nd v 2nd for Bronze etc).
Pool match v Wakefield – 0-0 draw
In the first game against Wakefield, we were a bit stunned by their pace in the first few minutes and were silently wondering just how tough these Nationals were going to be. Fortunately, we got into the game and began to dominate. Although we had 4 decent chances, we snatched at them, and never really settled in this match, desperate to get off to a good start and slightly overawed at the experience. The girls were a bit disappointed with a 0-0 draw, but we reminded ourselves that there was a long way to go, and anything could happen.
Pool match v Yeovil – 1-0 win
In the next game against West region winners Yeovil, we started to play better and took a 1-0 win with a nice far-post tip in from Imogen after a good drive along the baseline by Liv. Always good to get the first goal and the first win in the bag.
Pool match v Worcester – 2-2 draw
Next up were Midlands winners Worcester, who had started the pool in great form. This was a pretty tough game. They opened the scoring with a bit of a soft goal from close-in, but also thundered a short corner in from the top of the D. In return, Sienna got on the score sheet with a solid push into the bottom right hand corner. With our usual PC specialist Liv taking a break, we then put Stephanie into that role and she smashed in a hard shot which Sienna cleverly turned in round the post (just like in training!), and the match finished as a 2-2 draw.
Pool match v Canterbury – 1-0 win
We then went into our last pool game against Canterbury. Like Worcester, they had some giants in their team, literally as big as many of our parents, and when they got moving, it wasn't easy to stop them. We'd settled down at this point, and were playing some reasonable hockey, although clearly a bit tired. We went 1-0 up with a goal from Liv and dug deep and battled with everything we had.
Meanwhile, we were keeping a close eye on the other pitch, where Worcester were losing to Yeovil, meaning we would go through to the final for 1st/2nd place. Unbelievably, just 30 secs from the end, Worcester equalised. Instead of topping the pool, we came 2nd on goal difference only. So cruel. As Sevenoaks had beaten Surbiton in the other pool, we lined up against Surbiton for 3rd/4th. We had a severe case of deja vu, unfortunately losing to them yet again by a single goal, meaning we finished in 4th place.
The disappointment of not reaching the final, and not yet getting one over Surbiton passed quickly as the girls went up to collect their medals. If you'd said at the start of the season we'd come out as the 4th best team in the country, we'd have jumped at it, so, everything in perspective, and the girls had a great time throughout the trip. A big thank you to Dave and Ems for their wonderful help on the day, and to James and Vanessa for their assistance with coaching this group of girls over the season. Have a nice break over the summer everyone!