Congratulation to the U18 hockey girls who have played brilliant hockey this season, putting them in the top 8 schools in the country.

Having won the Regionals, the U18 girls travelled to Olympic Stadium, Lee Valley, to compete in the National Finals. Their first match was against Stockport Grammar School and Dean Close dominated early, scoring from a good move, with Danielle Gibson finishing well. Dean Close continued to play well with Maddie Pendle marshalling the midfield and Issy Fairthorne driving the side from right midfield. Danielle scored the second goal from a breakaway attack before Stockport scored to put some pressure on. From a short corner, Izzy Montgomery scored back with a good finish from a rebound meaning Dean Close won the match 3-1. The second match, against a Framlingham side who had lost heavily to Repton in their first match, was a cautious affair with Framlingham defending well but Dean Close dominating the early exchanges and forcing several short corners. Unfortunately despite going very close, Dean Close couldn’t score and then with seconds remaining in the first half Dean Close conceded a short corner that Framlingham scored to take the lead. The second half was suffocated by good defending from both sides with no clear cut chances on goal so a frustrated Dean Close side went down 1-0. Strong performances came from Eva Huelsman and Abby Norwood in a tough battle.

The second day was the last group match against Repton, the reigning champions, who had won the first two matches 7-0 and 7-1! Dean Close had the best of the first half with Danielle Gibson forcing an excellent save from the Repton goalkeeper after an amazing bit of skill and Jess Thomas slicing through the defence on a couple of occasions. The defence and midfield were outstanding but unfortunately got breached twice near the end of the first half. In the second half, Dean Close created more chances but could not break down an excellent Repton side and again, marshalled by Eva Huelsman and Izzy Montgomery, the defence were outstanding with Grace Starling making several crucial saves. Maddie Pendle, up against an England U21 player, performed very well and forced several mistakes from the Repton team. Repton ran out 2-0 winners and deservedly won the Final against Millfield 5-0.

Director of Hockey, Gary Tredgett, said: “Although disappointed not to get to the Final, the Dean Close squad performed well and showed against Repton how close they were to doing well. They have had an amazing season qualifying for Indoor and Outdoor National Finals and must be proud of all their achievements.”