A great effort from a motivated BU16 squad who managed to get to Heathrow for 4.30am on a dank and cold December morning. Under the guidance of Coach Rob Field, the boys were motivated to perform at the prestigious international tournament held at Club de Polo...
A number of the side have been to the competition before and have loved their experience and it was great to get a new batch of boys the opportunity. We had only 12 players and all of them worked hard on the pitch and behaved well off the pitch.
After an entertaining experience at Heathrow we managed to shake ourselves out for the hardest game of the tournament against Club de Polo (A) first up. Over the year its been a regular tactic for the hosts to place us first up!! Great to have that challenge. The best thing about the weekend is to play the best teams and have a real test as a squad and to bond for the rest of the season.
After conceding a very early goal the team settled and had most of the possession and a lot of chances and despite a lot of effort we could quite score. The team played really well with Jake and Fergie solid at the back and Ollie and Ben making gains down the flanks. Jonny, Joel, James and Harry worked hard in the middle and a lot of running came from the attackers of Charlie, Chan and Lucas. Connor played well all weekend in goal and made a couple of top saves to keep us in the game.
Right on the final whistle Polo managed to get a short corner and finished clinically. Despite the score the boys had played very well and we knew we would have to win the rest to stay in the mix for medals.
Game 2 was against the Russian team, St Petersberg. Last year we played and lost twice to a motivated Russian side (Kazam) so we didn’t underestimate the opposition. We played some fine hockey and Lucas used his pace to score a great hat trick to help keep us on top and Harry finised off with the final goal to make it 4-0. A good team performance and lots f good, calm passing from the whole team. After a good debrief the boys headed off to the hotel for a feed a well-earned rest after the longest day of the year (3am start).
Saturday was a game of contrasts for sure. We started in the afternoon with a very young and smaller Villaprimrose team who fought hard but we dominated the game. Lots of pressure on the French goal but we were a bit crowded to start with but plenty of corners and some great saves from a young goalkeeper. However, we kept pushing and the resulting short corner was well finished by Fergie low to the keepers right. Ollie then provided a great pass for Harry to finish to make it 2-0. The boys did well but came away knowing we should have scored a few more but some great build up play and lots of movement and calm passing.
The real test came in the evening against Canterbury who are in the same league as the boys and we normally have a good test. We conceded in the first 5 mins after losing possession but had the majority of the ball and used the width to stretch the opposition and a few great aerial balls up front. The crowd had a cracking atmosphere and a fair degree of ‘local’ rivalry between the two UK teams. The Canterbury crowd heckled during the short corners but I sensed that motivated the Guildford team even more. Finally the goal came after a short corner and Fergie’s great drag flick was saved and then Harry followed up to bury it in the left corner of the goal. After the goal celebrations the team went into overdrive on the attack and kept testing the Canterbury keeper. We couldn’t quite finish them off but was a great Saturday night came with plenty of entertainment.
After the Saturday night disco and watching some of the other games the final game was against Club de Polo B. The hosts are great and do look after us well but have a habit of having favourable umpires and also fluid A/B squads. The boys were super motivated from the start and the high press worked well to constrict the opposition. Lots of direct passing fed the high forwards and Charlie did well to collect a great pass from Fergie and then turn and smash it bottom corner to make it 1-0. More pressure followed plus a decent save from Connor, and we managed a few corners. Fergie stepped up and finished calmly with 2 of them to make it a strong 3-0 win.
Overall a strong performance and a small bit of regret to lose to Polo in the first match off the plane but a great weekend and the boys will learn a lot as a team.
Thanks to Rob for all his coaching and encouragement of the boys and Amanda for her help as team manager and in particular helping the last batch of boys get home!!! Also great to have enough parents on tour for a good laugh and some post match banter!!
Overall the boys behaved well, worked hard on the pitch and maintained good discipline and also behaved well around the tournament. Now we can push on after the Xmas break and aim to play well in the league and aim for the regional and national finals.
Coaches – Rob & James (asst)
Manager - Amanda
Squad – Connor, Jake, Fergie, Ollie, Ben, Harry, Chan, Joel, Charlie, Johnny