It was a real festival of hockey at AKS on Saturday as blue skies and sunshine greeted visitors from as far afield as London and Edinburgh to the annual Jean Torrance U12 Invitation Tournament, which this year celebrated its 20th Anniversary. With 30 Junior & Year 7 hockey players representing 3 AKS teams, a Year 8 B team stepping in at the last minute when a school dropped out and many more senior players involved in helping coach the teams it certainly was a great day enjoyed by pupils and parents alike.
The opening match in the A team competition, as it always has been since the tournament first started, was AKS vs The Chase School from Malvern. A tentative start saw the first half end 0-0 with both teams not having many goal-scoring opportunities. An early AKS goal in the second half from Eleanor L from a well struck penalty strike brought the game to life and Chase responded immediately to get an equaliser two minutes later. AKS took the lead shortly afterwards with an unstoppable edge of the circle shot from Ziv W and Centre forward Ziv W clinched victory on the final whistle with a reverse sweep shot to give her team a 3-1 win.
Our second game against Lytham High School was a closely contested one. Lytham defended well and AKS had to work hard to gain a 2-0 win. Gabriella F scored the first goal on the left post from a Prisha R pass on the right with the second goal coming from Ziv W who beat the Lytham keeper with an unstoppable penalty corner strike.
Confidence high, AKS went into their final group game against Mary Erskine School from Edinburgh with everything to play for as both teams had won both their section games. Although AKS battled, the skilful Scottish team had the better of the first half and they took the lead just before half time. With nothing to lose, AKS had to take the game to their opponents if they were to win the group and this they did. An exciting second half saw AKS have much of the attacking play and we created a number of scoring opportunities. A great shot from Ziv W was well saved by the keeper and an instinctive sweep from Gabriella F on the left went just wide and at the final whistle the score was 0 – 1. With two wins this meant AKS had qualified for the semi-final as runners up and played against Altrincham Girls’ GS who had won the other group.
In a close and exciting semi-final that saw both teams play some outstanding hockey and have chances in front of goal, Altrincham snatched a 1-0 victory with a late second half goal. The final between Altrincham and Mary Erskine ended 0-0 which meant the two schools shared the trophy, whilst the play off for 3rd and 4th place ended 1-1 which showed how close the games to decide the final four placings in the A team tournament had been.
The B team competition which ran alongside the main competition consisted of three schools and six teams with AKS, Chase and Mary Erskine entering both B and C teams in order to give more girls the opportunity to play in the tournament. On the Friday evening all three schools played matches against their own school, with the B teams just having the edge in all games, AKS B team winning their match against the AKS C team 2-0 with goals from Phoebe M-C and Milli B.
Saturday saw AKS B team start slowly and they conceded an early goal in their first game against Mary Erskine C team. This put the B team on the back foot and in their attempts to equalise they were found short in defence and conceded a second goal to lose their opening game 2-0. Down but not out of the competition, they came back determined to win their second game against Chase B team. A good first half saw them take the lead with a well taken penalty corner strike from Alicia I. A second good strike by Phoebe M-C, this time from open play, gave AKS a confidence boosting 2-0 win. In their next game against Chase C team, AKS dominated playing some good passing hockey and were rewarded with a 3-0 win with Phoebe M-C scoring her third goal of the tournament while Freya W was delighted to score from a well rehearsed penalty corner routine. AKS’s third goal came from Milli B who beat a defender before slipping her shot past the keeper. AKS B team’s final game was against Mary Erskine B team. Having already lost to the Mary Erskine C team, AKS expected a tough game from the B team and they got it. A shaky start saw them concede an early goal but the team showed great character to come back and play some of their best hockey of the tournament with some impressive play down the right. We created a number of chances but a combination of last ditch defending and good goalkeeping from the Chase team kept the ball out of the net and at the final whistle the score was 0 – 1. At the end of the tournament the team can be proud of finishing 3rd and especially of how much they had improved both individually and as a team as the day had progressed.
A very young C team with some Junior School players in the squad saved the best until last. Despite losing their first three games of the tournament, they improved as the day went on and were delighted to get a draw and a win from their last two games. Some superb defending and goalkeeping earned them a well deserved 0-0 draw with a much bigger and older Mary Erskine C team with Anna P and Beth R superb at the back. Confidence high they went into their last game determined to score a goal and ended up scoring three! Two goals from Captain Rachel W and one from Yr6 pupil Katy T giving them a satisfying 3-0 win at the end of the tournament.
At the end of the tournament the presentation was made by the Guest of Honour AKS 1st XI Hockey captain Jess S who herself played in the tournament when she was in Year 7. After a very inspiring speech which highlighted the positive influence sport, and in particular hockey, has had on her own life she encouraged all the young players to continue with their sport and then she presented the trophies and certificates to the players.
In yet another very close Jean Torrance tournament the final positions were:-
Winners Altrincham Girls GS and Mary Erskine School
3rd AKS Yr 7 A & Yr 8 B
Winners City of London School
Runners-UP Rossall School
3rd. Chase A Team
4th. Lytham St Annes HS
B Team Competition
Winners Mary Erskine School B Team
Runners-Up Mary Erskine School C Team
3rd AKS B team
4th. Chase HS B team
5th. AKS C team
6th Chase HS C team