Last Sunday Sevenoaks Hockey Club U14 girls travelled to Lee Valley Hockey Centre for the National Finals where the best eight teams in the country were competing for the top spot. Over the last 7 months the team had successfully come through the County and Regional rounds.
The first match was against Reading. After a tentative start they settled down and started to display their hockey skill. Just before half time they were rewarded with a calm finish from Tiss Grice following a surging run from Ryana MacDonald-Gay. The second half saw both sides have opportunities to score but the Sevenoaks girls held their nerve and the match ended with a 1-0 win.
Next they were up against Repton. Unfortunately Sevenoaks went 0-1 down midway through the first half, however responded magnificently and immediately levelled the score to 1-1 with the final touch again coming from Grice. The tension continued throughout the second half but solid play and no lapse of concentration secured a toughly fought draw.
The third and final pool match was against Harleston Magpies. Sevenoaks were the only team not to have a loss by this stage and knew therefore that a win or a draw would see them through to the Final. Despite dominating the game right from the start and having the large majority of possession Sevenoaks could not quite find the back of the net. The Magpies keeper was outstanding and managed to keep out every shot. As the clock counted down Sevenoaks held firm and to their delight were into the Final.
Sevenoaks faced the historically strong Surbiton knowing that their best hockey would be needed in order to come out on top. They defended magnificently throughout a sustained early barrage of threatening attack and then began to launch their own counter attack. Despite opportunities to score from both teams the first half ended 0-0. Surbiton came out again strongly and this time managed to score.
With 10 mins to go Sevenoaks pressed hard trying to find the equaliser but Surbiton scored again from open play. Sevenoaks then took off their goalie and went with a kicking back. With the clock ticking down in the final minutes they pushed impressively hard and through Annabel Cheveley managed to score a well worked goal that she created from outside the D. Unfortunately time ran out with the final score 1-2 to Surbiton.
Overall it is a fantastic achievement for this group of girls to end their successful season as the second best team in country and to come away from the National Finals with silver medals. It is a credit to the whole squad for their impressive level of commitment and dedication since September and it is the first time that Sevenoaks has won silver in the U14 age group.
U14 girls squad: Amelie Allen, Venetia Barker, Keira Bassett, Annabel Cheveley, Jessica Fleming, Tilly Fox, Tiss Grice, Bea Jones, Natalya Keller, Elloise Paler, Lottie Peachey, Ryana MacDonald-Gay, Abi Scott, Alex Sewell, Lulu Stephens, Tilly Strand-Ford, Millie Thompson.