Cheam 1st Team Girls Hockey 3rd at National FinalsAfter the success of the girls 1st VII hockey last year it was hard to imagine this being emulated, let alone eclipsed, and so soon at that. Yet this is what Eliza, Lydia, Lucy, Rhea, Harriet, Laila, Ava, Mia, Tabitha and Cosi achieved on Friday 15th November at the U13 Girls IAPS National Finals at Repton.The format was four groups of 6, where each game was 12 minutes one way. The top 2 from each group would progress to the cup knockout stages.Our first game was against Cumnor House and we felt we had control of the game as we dictated the pace and tempo form the first whistle. Yet a bizzare mix up at the back meant we went a goal down and as the clock ticked down our frustrations grew as we searched for an equalizer. That equalizer did come but we had to settle for a draw, which very much felt like a loss.We regrouped and went into our next game against a strong Ardingly team knowing we had absolutely nothing to lose in order to get our day back on track. What a game this was! We sneaked a quick early goal and then had to face the onslaught of the Ardingly attack with wave after wave. But the girls managed to hold out for a 1-0 win, amidst some injuries and chaos!Up next was a physically strong Northampton team, who we had watched dominate their opening game. The girls showcased why they have achieved such success on their circuit this season, with phenomenal running off the ball and that gutsy determination to make tackle after tackle. It was a tightly contested match and when the whistle blew we were pretty pleased with a 1-1 draw.We then played a skillful Clifton team but collectively as a unit we were organized off the ball and quickly caused our opposition all sorts of problems with our turn over attacking threat and took a 1-0 win to put us in the driving seat going into the last group game.It was all to play for in the final game against Bromsgrove who sat in third place. We sat on top of the group with 8 points but we had 4 other teams breathing down our neck on 7 and 5 points, meaning a loss could potentially knock us out. We let this pressure get to us a little bit and went down a goal in the opening minute, not our best start. But this is what I love about this team; they take one minute at a time and just concentrate on what they can do at that specific moment. They kept calm instead of combusting and played their quick two touch hockey and the result spoke for itself with three beautifully worked goals in the next six minutes. This included a well-worked team goal, which was simply text-book hockey from start to finish.We had made it to the last 8! Our quarter final had us pitted against Felsted. What a match this turned out to be. It was end-to-end drama where each team produced some outstanding pieces skill on and off the ball. Cheam took the edge with two worked goals, but Felsted came back with a vengeance and Cheam found them selves making tackle after tackle. With our lead reduced to 1 in the final few minutes Felsted threw the kitchen sink at us (including taking off their goalie for an extra outfield player). Our girls absorbed all that pressure and took it in their stride to see out the game and book a place in the Semi final!We faced the favorites Dean Close in our semi final, who were something to behold as a team. We were soon on the receiving end of their dynamism as a team with two quick goals. Still we hung in there and caused threats of our own up front, but just could not quite convert our chances, with two minutes remaining we had a short corner, which we were not clinical enough in that pressurized moment. They capitalized and took the game out of our hands with one more goal to knock us out an into the dreaded 3rd/4th playoff!It was a tough experience for the girls. But it was also fantastic to have witnessed a team of such a high calibre and skill. They were thoroughly deserving of the win and went on to win the final 2-0.Now the 3rd/4th play off is such a hard one to navigate for any team who has just suffered the heartbreak of loss at the last hurdle. This coupled with some seriously tired legs that have been playing hockey all day makes for tough 12 minutes! This is where Eliza, Lydia and Lucy blew me away with their maturity and strength. Brushing aside their own personal disappointments, they rallied the troops and led from the front in their performances in what was a nail biting match against a seriously impressive Foremarke Hall. The girls left nothing to chance and played some of our best hockey all day. It was a monumental team effort to win the game and would not be possible without every single players input on the pitch. No group that deserve it more than this group, who continue to exceed everyone’s wildest expectations. Finishing 3rd out of 102 entries is simply outstanding and we are all incredibly proud of them.A huge thank you to our supporters on the day, who were simply outstanding! We are incredibly grateful to their cheering from the sidelines. We could not have done this without them. Also it is important to mention all the girls games staff back at Cheam, this is a culmination of work over the course of the girls’ time at Cheam and each and every staff member who has taken the girls over the last few years has played a big part in their achievements. So a big thank you from the girls and myself. Flickr album: Hockey Nationals – 2019 | Height: auto | Theme: Default 

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