Dean Close boys U18s travelled to the National Hockey stadium at Lee Valley for the semi finals of the National Knockout after qualifying first in the new Tier 1 League and beating Repton in the quarter finals.
The semi final v Reeds School was a cagey affair to start with but gradually Dean Close started to dominate with Oscar Newcombe and Toby Pallister outstanding in midfield. Dean Close created two very good chances that were saved by Reeds and several short corners followed for Dean Close, but even though the routines were good, they could not score. The second half was dominated more by Reeds and some outstanding defending by Leo England and Nick Nurse, and some good saves by Oli Smart, kept Reeds at bay. Jacob Melville Smith also made an excellent goal line save. With seconds remaining, Dean Close created a good chance to score but could not quite convert. The match ended 0-0 and went to a penalty shoot-out. After the first round of five penalties both sides had scored four, so to sudden death. Reeds scored and Dean Close missed and a very disappointed squad went into the 3rd/4th play off the next day.
Dean Close, although still disappointed from the previous day’s experience, came out determined to make amends. They played Norwich School and started the match well and dominated possession but frustrating could not score. Norwich, after defending well, scored a very good short corner to go 1-0 up at half time. The second half became a more open game and Dean Close played really well. After an excellent passing move between Ellis Robson and Jacob Payton, Jacob scored an excellent goal. Oscar Newcombe then scored from a short corner to make it 2-1. Ellis made it 3-1 with a great individual effort but Norwich managed to get a goal to make it 3-2, and a tense few minutes followed until Ellis scored his second to make the final score 4-2 securing a third place overall for the boys.
After starting at Cranleigh pre-season and winning the Tier 1 League and remaining unbeaten throughout the season, apart from losing on penalties, the whole squad has shown amazing commitment, skill and passion. Although third place is so disappointing for the squad it is the second best result in Dean Close history at U18s.
Dean Close U16s, after qualifying with a good 4-1 win against King’s Taunton in the quarter final, travelled to the National Hockey stadium at Lee Valley for the semi final of the National Knockout against Portsmouth Grammar School. Dean Close started the match strongly and had several good chances but failed to score. With Ed Stevens, Theo Bancroft and Lorcan Knox dominating midfield and Paddy Benson controlling the defence, Dean Close finally opened the scoring after good link play from Nick Schubach and Matt Candy. Despite some good attacks from Portsmouth, Dean Close managed to go into half time 1-0 ahead. The second half was mainly a midfield battle with Ed Stevens outstanding and Freddie Phillip Sorenson and Richard Swan very strong in attack and defence. Dean Close then scored a second goal from Theo Bancroft after good build up play. That goal sealed the win and an amazing achievement of qualifying for the National Final v Repton School.
The National Final against Repton was a tough match but Dean Close competed well and made it very difficult for Repton to break the midfield and defence, with Paddy Benson and Freddie Phillip Sorenson outstanding. Richard Swan was working hard to close Repton down and, along with Matt Candy, caused some problems for the opposition. Repton though went 1-0 ahead after a good finish which Dean Close could not quite keep out after several good saves from James Pollard. Dean Close immediately responded and dominated the rest of the half with Matt Candy and Nick Schubach causing continual problems but again just could not finish. They also missed several good opportunities at short corners and went into half time 1-0 down. In the second half, Repton scored a second goal midway through but Dean Close kept trying to penetrate. Sadly they could not score and Repton took a third goal to seal the win.
The squad were obviously disappointed but have achieved so much this season coming second in the country and should be so proud of what they achieved. Theo Bancroft and Paddy Benson led the side superbly.