AKS U16 hockey team are celebrating finishing runners-up in the Lancashire Tournament and qualifying for the North West Semi-Finals after playing superbly.
The tournament got off to a good start with the teams’ best performance in the first game to earn a fantastic draw against one of the tournament favourites Kirkham. Kirkham started on the front foot but a good run on the right from Millie D in the second minute proved we had a threat of our own and the opening exchanges were even. Kirkham then started to pass the ball well and only good goalkeeping from Verity W kept us level. Kirkham had several corners but great corner defence from the team meant we went into the break at 0 – 0. Gaining in confidence as the game progressed everyone defended superbly, working together to thwart the Kirkham attacks and with Hannah B, Sally S, Farrah D and Millie D dominant on the right we always posed a threat. At the end of the game we were celebrating an excellent team performance to earn a draw and a great start to the tournament.
The second game saw us against Stonyhurst College. We started in confident mood and Mille D again caused havoc on the right outrunning the Stonyhurst defence only to see her cross intercepted. Minutes later Verity W was on hand again when she was needed to save a Stonyhurst shot and we came close to scoring from a corner late in the half but at the break the scores were level at 0 – 0. The second half started well as we took the lead in the second minute when a great run and cross from Hannah B saw the ball deflect up and cause panic in the Stonyhurst defence and Georgia C reacted the quickest to force the ball over the line. Stonyhurst then raised their game and only good defending from Hannah B, Sophie B, Rebecca H, Amy I kept us ahead until the final whistle blew with us recording our first win 1 – 0.
Game 3 was against tournament co-favourites Lytham who started brightly and bought a great save from Verity W in the very first minute. We then settled and started to work the ball well down the right to earn a corner but Lytham defended well and the shot flew wide. Lytham then raised their game passing and running at pace but once again great team defence and corner defence kept the scores level. The second half started the way of the first with Verity W called into action early on but in the 5th minute we took the lead with a superb team goal. Great play down the right saw Hannah B drive forwards and when her superb cross found Alex C in the circle her first time shot lifted over the diving keeper to take us ahead. Lytham then threw everything at us but great working by Farrah D, Sophie B and Sally S in midfield constantly put pressure on the Lytham team and at the final whistle we were celebrating our second win 1 – 0.
The final game was against Ripley and we went into the game knowing a win or draw would see us qualify for the Regional finals. The game however did not go to plan when tired legs saw us leave Ripley players free in the circle and they duly slotted the ball into the net to take the lead. The rest of the half saw the improving Ripley side pass the ball well and create several chances but we managed to keep the ball out and go into the break just one behind. The effects of the previous hard games were definitely taking their toll and the second half saw Ripley start positively and only a great stick save from Verity W at a corner kept us in touch. To the girls great credit we raised our game one last time and in the 6th minute got on level terms when a great run and pass from Farrah D again found Alex C in the circle and she again found the net to make it 1 – 1. Lifted by the goal we finished on the front foot and at the final whistle we were celebrating a great comeback to earn a point which meant we finished runners-up in the tournament and now go forward to play in the North-West semi-finals in November.
A great team performance with every player raising their game, working hard for the team cause both in attack and defence and contributing to the final result. Well done.