The Home Counties Girls Hockey League Finals Day culminates the league season. The HCGL host two competitions on Finals Day - one for the top four performing Premier League teams and one for the top four performing Regional League teams. GHC had a GU14 team in each competition...
GHC GU14 'Fire' qualified for the Premier League Finals Day by winning their Premier League West division league. The runners-up from that table and the top two teams from the Premier League East also participated making up the four Finalists. The HCGL is the strongest girls hockey league in the country - all four finalsts have also reached the EH National Finals taking place at Lee Valley on 14 May.
GU14 'Ice' qualified for the Regional League Finals Day by winning their league table - one of only two teams in the club who won all of their league matches - thus qualifying for play-offs. They won their play-off match which put them in the top four teams of something like 70 teams in the Regional Leagues.
Here's how the teams did on the day...
Semi final v Spencer
Guildford had not played Spencer this season, so they were an unknown quantity coming into this match. All we knew is that they would be a quality side having won the National Finals as Under 12s and having reached the National Finals this season.
The match started well for Guildford, we were pressing high up the pitch and made quite a few penetrations into Spencer's D. Things were looking positive. Spencer repelled an attack and made a clearance to their forward on the half way line who managed to take the ball past 3 of our defenders and finish nicely into the bottom corner. 1-0 to Spencer with a nice individual goal. This managed to wake our girls up a little knowing this was now knockout hockey with a place in the final at stake. By half time Guildford were 3-1 up and looking dangerous every time we entered the D. The second half saw Spencer come out of the blocks fast. They pressed and fought hard in an even half. The game ended 4-1 to Guildford with goals from Jazz, Mattie, Eliza and Emma.
Final v Reading
Both these teams know each other well having already played each other twice this season with honours even having a win each. This was going to be a close match. Guildford started the first half strongly, having the better of the play. Half way through the half Emma weaved into the edge of the D and drilled a shot low and hard into the corner of the goal. At half time Guildford led 1-0. The second half saw Reading dominate many aspects and within 10 minutes they were 2-1 ahead. With 5 minutes to go some quick thinking by Emma created an opportunity. Emma drilled a free hit straight into the D from outside the 23 giving Issie a chance to equalise, which she took. Normal time came to an end, 2-2 meant golden goal extra time came into play.
Extra time came and went, flicks were now the deciding factor. Flicks are a cruel but definitive way to decide a match between 2 teams who had given their all on pitch, but could not be separated in match play.
The Guildford girls held their nerve, Raph made some unbelievably great saves and Esta scored the deciding flick to give Guildford the win.
Guildford were awarded the Premier League trophy and the Premier League West winners shield by Crista Cullen, Rio gold medalist and hockey genius. This was a fitting reward for an incredibly tight and competitive HCGL season.
Well done girls.
Semi final v Epsom
A close match but a good 2-1 win for GHC.
Final v Southgate
Southgate scored an easy goal against run of play and followed that up with another. We worked hard to get one back for 1-2 and get ourselves back into the game but Southgate put in another for a final score of 1-3.
The Girls were awarded their Silver medals by Olympic Gold Medallist Crista Cullen.