This week four Dean Close hockey teams qualified for the National Schools’ Hockey Finals. Three teams of girls’ in the U14s & U18s and U16s Indoor competitions, and one team of boys’ in the U18 Indoor competition.
The U14s girls started the week with the West Finals at Clifton College. Dean Close started their group with a very tough match against Kingswood School and after a slow start managed to score a good goal and run out 3-0 winners. In the second match against Canford School, Dean Close dominated from the start to finish and won. In the final match in the group, the team stuttered to a 2-2 draw, after being 2-0 down, but still won the group. Dean Close then qualified for the Semi Final against Millfield. The girls started slowly and went 1-0 down but then started to play some good hockey, with an excellent strike from a short corner from Connie Britton making the score 1-1. Millfield then went ahead again but Connie Britton smashed in another corner and then Dean Close scored the winner to set up another match v Kingswood in the Final. The team started the Final strongly and went ahead early and then scored again very quickly to control the Final. After two more goals, Dean Close, with very tired legs, won 4-1 and qualified for the National Final.
The whole squad played really well all day with notable performances from Captain Lorna Willmott, Caitlin Thompson, Connie Britton and Lara Hill.
After the U14s, the U16s Indoor squad followed on at the Ladies’ College in the Indoor West Final, a round robin tournament with the top two progressing to the National Finals. They started well in the first match against KES Bath playing some good hockey at times and winning 3-0. The girls then had to play Taunton School and after a couple of mistakes, found themselves 2-0 down. Despite a good fight back, they lost 3-2. After a long team talk and a new system, Dean Close had the crucial match against Clifton. An excellent structural performance led to them winning 4-0, putting the girls back in contention. The next match against a strong Millfield side was very tight and a 1-0 loss was a good result in the format, as with one match left a good win would put the girls in a good position. The last match was against Sherborne School and a comfortable 5-0 win coupled with a massive advantage on goal meant that Dean Close qualified second to Millfield. This is the first time ever Dean Close has qualified for the National Indoor finals at U16s; a great achievement.
The U18s West Final was also at the Ladies’ College on Sunday. Dean Close started the day with a match against Prior Park which they won comfortably 4-0. After a long wait the girls then played Sherborne School and with some good structural hockey, Dean Close won the match 4-0 and qualified for the Semi Final with one match against Millfield to go. In a tough last group match, Dean Close played really well and had several chances to score but lost a close match 1-0. The Semi Final was against Redmaids School who had won their group easily and were a tough side. Dean Close held their nerve and went 2-0 ahead with good attacking play, but Redmaids came back and made 2-1 with four minutes remaining. The girls then scored a third from a good move from Lotti Jakel and Abby Norwood which ended in a score from Ellie Clarke. However Redmaids came back to make it 3-2 making the last minute tense before Issy Tingey made a great save taking Dean Close through to the National Finals. The final against Millfield was another good match and after Millfield went 1-0 ahead, Dean Close had several short corners which were saved by an impressive Millfield keeper. Dean Close then conceded a second only for Suzie Carter to score a penalty to make it 2-1. Millfield scored a late third to seal the match. Another close battle and another National Final for the girls.