As the hockey season draws to a close, a number of Dean Close teams have been battling it out at regional and national competitions with three teams finishing in the top four in the country.
After a fantastic win in the Quarter Final of the U18 National Cup at RGS Guildford, the U18 boys qualified for the National Semi Finals for the third time in the School’s history. The squad travelled to Lee Valley National Hockey Centre in London and the day started with a fast paced match. The Dean Close team were under early pressure and after several good attacks, that the boys valiantly tried to convert, Repton scored a hat trick to go 3-0 up. Jacob Melville Smith scored a superb goal, which was unfortunately disallowed and Repton scored two more goals before half time to make it 5-0. Dean Close played well in the second half but it was all too late and a good finish from Elliott Bancroft gave Dean Close a consolation goal and the final score was 6-1.
Dean Close then played a 3rd/4th place play-off match against a very strong Whitgift side and unfortunately lost. Director of Hockey, Gary Tredgett, said, “It was a difficult two days but the boys should be very proud of finishing in the top four teams in the country, it has been a good season for the whole squad”.
Earlier in the year the U16 boys gave a very powerful performance at the West Finals, meaning they were the second Dean Close team to travel to the National Finals at the Lee Valley National Hockey centre. The first group game against Cranleigh was a hard match and after a strong start from both sides, Dean Close took the lead after a perfect pass from Jacob Payton to Otto Von Stechow, resulting in the first goal. Cranleigh equalised from a short corner and then took the lead from another corner. Just before half time Jacob Payton scored a fabulous goal to equalise. The Second half was end to end and once more Cranleigh took the lead to make it 3-2. With five seconds left to play, Vincent Kallrath dribbled through to equalise the score 3-3, a stunning (and very important) goal!
In the second match against The Perse School, the boys played extremely well and ran out 4-0 winners with goals from Jacob Payton, Theo Bancroft, Freddie Thomas and Sam Porter. Dean Close had to beat Repton in the last match to progress to the final which they did with a strong performance, including two goals from Sam Porter and one from Theo Bancroft.
In the final match Dean Close played Whitgift School; with an early goal for the opposition the boys were 1-0 down at half time. In the second half, Whitgift started to take control again and some strong saves from Melchior Kuhne kept Dean Close in the match. However, Whitgift then scored a second goal and made it 3-0 on the last play of the match.
Gary Tredgett said, “Amazing effort from the Dean Close squad and a great achievement to come second in the country in both the indoor and outdoor arenas this year.”
The U14 girls were the third and final team to make the journey to the Lee Valley National Hockey Centre for the National Hockey finals after qualifying way back in November with a powerful West Finals win. The first match against Framlingham School was a crucial match. The girls started hesitantly but defended well and were able to ward off several short corners, expertly blocked by Alice Howitt. The team created some great chances and from an excellent short corner Fifi Russell was the first to score. Framlingham then increased the pressure but some superb defending from Louisa Neal and Helena Montgomery, and Susie Carter dominating the midfield, the squad were able to see out a 1-0 win.
The second match against St George’s, Weybridge was an open and end to end match with St George’s taking the lead early on. Dean Close hit back and equalised with a good strike from a short corner by Alice Howitt. In the second half Louisa Neal, Susie Carter and Hannah Porter demonstrated their strong defending skills. The squad created many chances at a goal but were not able to score, whilst Phoebe Channing made save after save to keep the opposition at bay. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with both sides still able to make the Final.
In their last match of the group Dean Close played Kirkham Grammar School, they needed a winning result to give them a chance of making the Final. The girls played excellent midfield hockey but were caught out several times at the end of the pitch and after several excellent saves from Phoebe Channing, Kirkham scored. The squad were resilient and played valiantly, but after a few more stunning saves from Phoebe Channing, the game ended in a very tough 1-0 defeat. This meant that the U14 girls finished second in their group and joint third in the country. Gary Tredgett said, “The girls have played some amazing hockey throughout the season and coming third in the country is a great achievement. I am very proud of them all.”