In a riveting display of determination and skill, Cheam’s U13 Girls Hockey Team emerged victorious at the National U13 Hockey Champions, held at Hailebury on November 17th. Over 150 schools from Scotland down to Somerset had vied for the title, making it a gruelling competition where only the top 24 regional qualifiers earned the chance to showcase their talent.
The journey to the title was no easy feat for Cheam. Having reached the National Finals in the past four years with placements ranging from 16th to 3rd and 5th, this year saw the team looking to go one further than past previous heartbreak. The tournament was a cauldron of competitiveness, pitting the hockey titans from various schools against each other.
Cheam faced a daunting group stage featuring stalwarts like St Hugh’s, Cardigan, and former National Champions Framlingham, Repton, and Cumnor House. Despite the formidable opponents, the team exhibited prowess right from the outset. They commanded the game against Cardigan, securing a comfortable 2-0 win by dictating the tempo.
The challenges continued with nerve-wracking encounters against Cumnor House and St Hugh’s, where despite dominating possession, they had to grind out narrow victories. However, the pivotal match against Repton tested their resilience. Despite trailing 1-0 for most of the game, a last-minute goal by Veronica was called off due to a foul, leading to a penalty stroke. Florence stepped up, showcasing nerves of steel to secure a crucial draw.
The team’s fortitude was on full display in the decisive game against Framlingham. Despite missing several scoring opportunities, a 2-0 win ensured their spot in the final eight, tied on points and goal difference with Repton, leading to a penalty flick scenario. Cheam’s precision and Freya’s heroics in goal secured them the top spot in their group.
The knockout stages saw Cheam’s girls elevate their game further. With confident passing and movement, they claimed victories against Witham Hall School and St Faith in the quarterfinals and semi-finals, respectively, exhibiting resilience and defensive prowess.
The pinnacle of their journey arrived in the final showdown against Repton. Despite physical exhaustion, the Cheam girls displayed unwavering determination. They dominated possession, played strategic hockey, and scored a beautifully worked goal from a short corner. The team’s defensive resilience, marked by relentless tackles, ensured a well-deserved 1-0 victory, clinching the National Finals title.
This triumph stands as a testament to the team’s unity, dedication, and relentless pursuit of perfection. Their remarkable season record of 27 games, 25 wins, and 2 draws is a testament to their unwavering commitment and tireless efforts in training.
The Cheam U13 Girls Hockey Team’s achievement is nothing short of extraordinary. Their victory is a culmination of teamwork, perseverance, and sheer passion for the sport. The entire Cheam community is immensely proud of these remarkable girls and their monumental accomplishment.