Farnborough Hill’s U15 Hockey team emerged victorious at the ISA National Hockey Cup competition, held recently at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Following in the footsteps of world-leading internationals, including Old Girl and Olympic medallist Alex Danson MBE, when they ran out onto the London 2012 Olympic pitch, the team advanced through some tough encounters in the seven-a-side competition to overcome Ipswich High School 2-0 in the tournament final.
Teacher of PE Miss Naomi Lynch takes up the story:
On Wednesday 9 February 2022, the U15 girls went to the Olympic Hockey stadium to compete in the U15 ISA National Competition.
With a lot of traffic on the road, the start of the day was disjointed and some teams had not arrived. After a quick warm-up, Farnborough Hill was asked to play the first game against Quinton House School. With the adrenalin and excitement of the day, the first game saw some lost tackles and panic play. Lauren Gr and Lauren G both scored in quick succession, giving Farnborough Hill a comfortable lead. However, it was not long till Quinton House scored one back. It was a scrappy battle through to the whistle, but Farnborough Hill won the first game and settled any nerves of the day.
There was a long wait until the second game, but it gave the girls time to reflect, watch the opposition and prepare to play LVS Ascot. This game was a step up from the last as LVS Ascot had some quick players who liked to run through the middle. Farnborough Hill defended well and took opportunities when they came, winning the game 1-0, with the goal coming from Lauren G. This put Farnborough Hill in a great position, winning two from two in our group.
The pressure was slightly off in the final group games, knowing we would advance due to other results in the table, but this did not mean the Farnborough Hill girls would take their feet off the gas. The final game was against Mount House School. With Mount House defending with all players in the D, there was limited space to move the ball around. However, determination and patience paid off, with Farnborough Hill winning their final group game 3-0. Two goals came from Lauren Gr and one goal from Sophie.
This meant the girls would go through to the Cup knockout stage as Farnborough Hill was one of the top four teams. The girls had a quick lunch break and moved to the main Olympic pitch to give it their all.
Farnborough Hill would play the first knockout match against Ballard School, with a win meaning the team would progress to the final. A quick team talk with Mr Daniel Emery and I gave the girls some confidence as we told them how much they deserved to be where they were and that they would need to give everything they had.
From the start, it was clear this game was another step up, with two very good teams meeting in the middle. For the first time in the tournament, Farnborough Hill went 1-0 down. This seemed to light a fire in the girls and they fought back, winning a short corner. The girls knew the pressure was on and they needed to score in order to stay in the fight and they did just that. Erin injected the ball to Lauren G, who slipped it to the right to Lauren Gr who scored. It was 1-1! With only a few minutes left, Farnborough Hill won another short corner which, unfortunately, was just off target and the end whistle went.
It was time for penalty shuffles; you have eight seconds to score one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Farnborough Hill's goalkeeper was Anisha, who is two years younger than the girls she was about to go head to head with, and on top of that there was the knowledge that if we won we were into the final.
Ballard School would go first. Anisha was advised 'stay on your feet and keep moving' and she did just that, saving the first shot high in the D and then sprinting to the right post to save the second shot. Outstanding! It was then Farnborough Hill's turn and Erin stepped up as captain to take the first shuffle. Listening to the advice from Mr Emery, she stayed facing the keeper and found the bottom right corner, making it 1-0. It was Anisha’s turn again in goal, closing down the player, staying balanced and on the move, she saved the second shuffle. Farnborough Hill's second shuffle was taken by Lauren Gr and she scored, meaning Farnborough Hill was through to the final.
The final would be Farnborough Hill v Ipswich High School and promised to be a battle of belief and who could stick in the game the longest. It is fair to say the girls played their socks off, with the first goal going in early from Sophie helping to settle the nerves. What followed was the best Hockey the girls had played all day, demonstrating why they deserved to win.
Farnborough Hill finished off with a second goal from Lauren G, winning the final 2-0 and becoming U15 ISA National Champions!
There were outstanding performances and true determination on display by all the girls who played. The team was: Erin (Captain); Ella M, Flora, Lauren G, Bethan, Sophie, Ella Mac, Lauren Gr, Anisha (Goalkeeper)