The senior hockey side put in a tremendous performance in the Lancashire round of the National Schools U18 hockey tournament and missed out on progressing to the regional finals in a very close and exciting tournament with final positions only decided in the last 5 minutes of the final round of matches.
The first match saw us up against the strong Rossall side who started well with some great attacking play that won two corners in the early stages but great corner defence kept the scores level. We then started to enjoy some possession of our own and with Grace W and Mollie M controlling midfield we got a foothold in the game. In the 9th minute a great run down the right from Macy C put Rossall on the back foot and only good defending prevented us from scoring. Just before the break we had another good scoring opportunity when Mollie M, Lucy R and Macy C linked well and attacked down the right only for the cross to be intercepted so at the break the scores were level. We started the second half at pace and won a corner early on but Mollie M’s drag flick was well saved by the Rossall keeper. We continued to press but in the 6th minute Rossall scored against the run of play. After going behind we raised our game and great play between Megan C, Mollie M, Lucy R, Grace W and Macy C threatened the Rossall goal and we won several attacking corners. In the 10th minute we got our reward when a shot from a corner saw the Rossall keeper save but when her rebound fell to Mollie M a superb reverse shot found the corner to put us on level terms. We continued to press with Rossall very much on the back foot and with our great attacking play deserved to add to our score but at the final whistle we had to settle for a superb draw.
Our second game was against Stonyhurst where the pace of the game was nowhere as intense as the first. We started on the front foot attacking well down the right but Amelia A’s shot flew just wide. A lack lustre period saw our play lack the pace and cohesion of the first game and only good defending at a corner prevented Stonyhurst taking the lead just before the break. The second half saw us improve the pace of our game and we forced several corners early on but great goalkeeping by the Stonyhurst keeper kept the scores level. We continued to work hard but a lack of link play saw our numerous attacks thwarted and despite coming close on several occasions the superb keeping by the Stonyhurst keeper kept the ball out of the net and at the final whistle the scores were level at 0 – 0.
We went into the final game against Kirkham with all to play for. We got off to a great start when in the first minute a superb 1 – 2 between Mollie M and Grace W saw us work the ball into the circle and Mollie M’s shot found the back of the net to make it 1 – 0. From the centre Kirkham came straight back at us and only a great save from Emily P kept us ahead. We needed more good defending in the 5th minute when Kirkham won a corner but again the defence of Grace W, Mollie M, Jess H and Megan C kept the ball out of the net and our noses ahead. More good defending from Lily H, Daisy S and Jess H made life difficult for the Kirkham forwards but they did get on level terns in the 7th minute when a great cross from the right found a player free in the circle and her first time shot gave Emily P no chance in goal. With both teams working hard, creating chances and defending well the scores remained level until the half time break. In the second half we raised our game and played with great driving midfield runs from Grace W and Mollie M and link play on right from Lucy R and Macy C we were a constant threat to the Kirkham goal but good defending kept the scores level. In the 7th minute we came close from a corner when a well worked routine brought a save from the keeper but in the 9th minute Kirkham scored against the run of play after we over committed to attack and a breakaway saw them squeeze the ball past our advancing keeper and the ball agonizingly crawled over the line. With time running out we threw everything at Kirkham but their determined play meant we could not get a breakthrough and at the final whistle the score was 1 – 2.
With all the results so close we had just failed to reach the next round of the competition by just one goal finishing third overall but all the players can be proud of how well they played and how hard they worked on the pitch giving all they had to give. A superb team effort. Well done.