Sevenoaks reached their third final in four years, which on its own is an incredible achievement.
A late 7.00pm start at the Olympic Park in Lee Valley, was labelled the graveyard shift, but with the beautiful weather it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, playing in cooler temperatures.
A low sun and bouncy pitch did prove to be tricky however Cambridge started the brighter with Sevenoaks really struggling to find any form at all. With thanks to goalkeeper Lynn Dawson, and solid defending from Amanda Bishop, captain Fran Walton and first time national finalist Janet Whitaker, Oaks were lucky to go in at half time only one down.
A perfectly delivered half time team talk from coach Sue Chandler had meant that Sevenoaks took a good hard look at themselves, they then turned up as a team playing much better in the second half.
Cambridge were breaking down Sevenoaks’ play well, but more chances were being created and Oaks began to find more flow to their game. Players were giving their absolute all and it started to reap rewards.
A two minute purple patch saw Julie Nicholson score a brace, her first coming from some good build up play in the D and her second was an absolute scorcher. Man of the match Amanda Bishop took a free hit from just inside the opposition half, firing a pin point accurate pass to Nicholson in the D, who superbly deflected the ball past the oncoming Cambridge keeper.
Both sides continued to create chances with both teams giving everything they could to win the cup. Sarah Pinkstone was now having an absolute stormer, working tirelessly to win the ball. She pinched it again and was away with only the keeper to beat. She beautifully took the keeper one way and with complete selfless play she slipped the ball to Nicholson for the easiest of tap ins to complete her hat trick and leave Oaks 3-1 up with three and a half minutes to go.
Oaks saw the game out and the trophy was retained.
Just to sum up the amazing team spirit of the ladies, Walton and Michele Harvey both collected the trophy together. Harvey, having just completing a course of chemotherapy for breast cancer, was beaming which made it all that more of an emotional moment for the whole team and all the supporters.
This team, and the other squad members who have played in earlier rounds, Kim Wolff, Emma Grice and Sarah Young should be so incredibly proud of themselves. Sevenoaks Hockey Club is an amazing place and the whole team played their part:
- Lynn Dawson in goal for making vital saves and rallying her tiring team in front of her
- Sarah Burnham, Caroline Shrimpton, Whitaker and Walton defending like the champions they are
- Carolyn Kelly, Jacqui Hudson, Sue Acott and Bishop working so hard in midfield and upfront Ruth Bingham, Pinkstone, Nicholson, Pia Tucker and Nicky Hollamby creating chances and defending like Trojans to help secure the victory
On the side, Janine Nicholls and Jill Harvey, alongside Sue Chandler, Karen Taylor, Sarah-Jane Marshall and Harvey were cheering the team on and all the support from those that travelled.