AKS U14 hockey team played in the North West Semi Finals on Tuesday and continued their hockey development both as individuals and as a team.
The first game against King William College from the Isle of Man saw us start nervously but nerves were settled when in the 5th minute we went into the lead. Great link play on the right between Hattie R and Hannah T saw the ball worked down the right and when Ruby W’s shot was saved by the keeper Ellie S was on hand to put the ball in the goal to make it 1 – 0. A minute later we won a corner and only a great save from the King William keeper from a Ruby W shot stopped us doubling our lead. We continued to dominate possession and Ruby W came close again two minutes later with a superb first time shot but the ball flew just wide. Late in the half a great high save high from Sydney G maintained our clean sheet and we went into the break ahead. The second half went the way of the first with us enjoying a lot of the ball and working it well down our right and Ziv W came close in the 5th minute. It was, however, King William who found the net next when in the 8th minute they scored , against the run of play, when a hard speculative hit into the circle found a player free on the far post and she found the net to make it 1 – 1. We pushed forward to score but King William defended well and at the final whistle we had to settle for a draw.
The second game against Hill House saw us get off to the worst possible start when they scored in only the 2nd minute following a well worked move down their right and cross across the goal. This put a dent in our confidence and we lost any team shape and struggled to get our passing game going. Hill House capitalised on our lack of organisation and they went two up with an identical move in the 12th minute and at half time it was 0 – 2. The second half saw us improve our team shape and hold our positions more effectively which allowed us to put together some good passing moves. The hard working Ruby W linked well with Hannah T to create a number of great scoring opportunities, the best of which fell to Ziv W , but we failed to find the target and at the final whistle the score was 0 – 2 despite a much improved second half performance.
The final group game against one of the favored teams, Queens Chester, was now a ‘must win’ one so we started in positive mood. Sydney G kept us in the game with a good save in the 5th minute and we had a chance of our own minutes later with another good move down the right thanks to Hattie R, Hannah T and Ruby W linking well but in the 8th minute Queens took the lead after a good move. An unstoppable reverse stick shot a minute later saw Queens extend their lead and this put us on the back foot. Good defending from Mia W, Jenny D , Annaleise H and Eleanor L soaked up pressure in the latter stages of the half and at the break we were still in touch at 0 – 2. The second half however, started in the worst possible way as Queens found the net again in only the 2nd minute to make the score 0 – 3. Sydney G made two more great saves but as confidence fell Queens moved the ball quickly and efficiently and we could not stop them scoring four more goals before the final whistle.
With a semi place out of reach we played the 3rd place team of the other section, Nelson Tomlinson from Cumbria and finished the tournament on a high with a great 4 – 0 win. We started the game nervously but after a great run and shot from Hattie R confidence grew. We won a corner early on and deservedly went ahead with a well worked routine that Ruby W drilled into the goal to make it 1 – 0. Ruby was on the score sheet again a minute later and we were enjoying a lot of possession and were passing the ball well again and Nyah H made the score 3 – 0 before the break. The second half saw us dominate play and Ruby W deservedly got her hat-trick goal in the 8th minute to finish the tournament on a high with a 4 – 0 win. Despite not progressing to the North Finals all the girls have learnt a great deal from the experience in the tournament that they can now take forward to the matches in the future.