AKS U18 indoor hockey squad arrived in Bradford with little knowledge of indoor hockey but lots of enthusiasm, excited to gain new experience and skill that they could use in their outdoor game. The team was made up of a mixture of year 10-13 students and our participation in the North Tournament was designed to stretch the players and ignite an interest for a future competitive indoor team!
The first game in the tournament against renowned indoor hockey school, Hymers College from Hull was always going to be a steep learning curve. Their advanced level of skill meant the AKS girls had to get up to speed quickly and within a few minutes AKS started to play like a team with experience. Mollie M, Grace W and Farrah D made some excellent low and strong tackles to ensure a secure defence. Young goalkeeper Emily P made some magnificent reaction saves to thwart many of Hymers attacks. In attacks, Macy C, Jade F and Millie D all rotated on and off and worked at high intensity to prevent overlaps from the back as well as setting up a number of goal scoring opportunities. Hymers broke the dead lock 10 minutes in to the game, but AKS soon equalised with a well placed shot from Grace W and then with two minutes to go Hymers scored the winner.
AKS got off to a great start in their next match against Egglescliffe College, hitting the post three times and dominating the first 7 minutes. Mollie M, the only experienced indoor player on the team, led by example and drove down the right applying great pressure to Egglescliffe defence. Grace W used her quick pace to self play an advantage and gained a short corner when Egglescliffe didn’t retreat 3 metres. The resulting penalty corner strike from Molly M forced an excellent save from the opposition keeper and the match remained at 0-0 at half time. The second half saw AKS continue to attack well with excellent individual stick work skills being displayed by Sophie B and Jade F. Mollie M made numerous overlapping runs in this spell and marginally missed scoring again after her drag flick hit the post. Sadly Egglescliffe counter attacked immediately and scored. AKS responded with Hannah B gaining possession with a superb one handed tackle and passing the ball out of defence to Macy C who drove powerfully down the right side to force a penalty corner. An excellent drag flick from Mollie M made the score 1 - 1. The fast pace of the game began to take its toll and unfortunately the opposition scored late in the game to win the 2-1.
The final game was against a more experienced and physically stronger side from Rossall. The team expected a tough game as Rossall needed to win this game by 4 clear goals to reach the semi-final. Rossall started with pace and clear determination to succeed in the task ahead. AKS defended well at the start and some strong and skillful runs through Rossall’s defence by Mollie M put Rossall on the back foot. However, despite some tireless closing down Rossall soon stepped up the pace to create goal scoring opportunities. With two minutes to go in the twenty minute game, Rossall scored their much celebrated fourth goal and looked to be heading for the semi-final. However AKS did not give up and were determined to get something from the game. A fast break on the right from Millie D led to a penalty corner in the dying seconds of the game. In what was to be the last play of the game, a fast injection from Grace W allowed Mollie M time to beat the opposition goalkeeper and five defenders with a superb drag flick into the roof of the goal. The end score was 4 – 1 to Rossall, which meant it was Hymers and Egglescliffe who went through from the group to compete in the semi-final.
The squad are to be highly congratulated on their performances in such a prestigious hockey tournament where they competed and were not out of place with the best U18 indoor hockey teams in the North.
Overall the tournament was inspiring for them and as a young side and they are determined to develop their indoor play and become more competitive next year. This was a great opportunity for the girls and the future seems promising!
SQUAD: Year 10 - Farrah Druce, Millie Duncan, Sophie Bridges, Emily Peacock Year 11 - Hannah Beeby, Grace Webster, Year 12 - Mollie Mason (Captain), Jade Finlayson Year 13 - Macy Cherry