What a weekend for Dean Close Hockey with all four Indoor sides competing at the National Indoor Finals with the Girls’ U18 and U16 teams playing at Bromsgrove School and the Boys’ U18s and U16 teams at Whitgift. Dean Close were one of only two schools to have achieved this.

The U18 girls had a very tough group at Bromsgrove, with a first match against Repton. The girls showed how far they had come as a side going 2-0 up against a side with a current GB player! An injury to Lotti disrupted the side midway through the second half and Repton fought back to win 3-2. The second and third matches were fought valiantly by the girls against St Georges and Framlingham, however, two loses meant they had one more match against Wakefield on Sunday morning. The team played well against Wakefield and managed a draw with the whole squad playing in the match. At the top level all matches are tough and the girls performed incredibly well, with outstanding performances from Issy in Goal and Captain, Abby, who was playing in her second National Indoor Finals. Suzy and Lotti were instrumental in all matches too.

The U16 girls also had a difficult first match against a very strong St Theresa School and despite holding possession for the majority of the match, narrowly lost. Liv played outstanding in goal under immense pressure. Dean Close then fought hard to win the next two matches against Newcastle Grammar School 3-1 and RGS Worcester 2-1, with Hannah scoring 3 goals and Emilia scoring 2 after some great team play. This performance put Dean Close up against Framlingham to qualify for the Semi Finals. Framlingham started well and scored two early goals but Dean Close fought back with a goal from Hannah. However, as the game progressed Framlingham took control and despite a massive effort from the girls, Dean Close didn’t make it through. The girls had a great tournament and after qualifying for the National Indoor for the first time showed what a strong side they were. A great effort by both Girls’ sides that showed the strength the Girls’ Hockey has at the moment.

The U18 boys travelled to London for their first match against a strong Oakham side and after a tight first half, Dean Close won the match with 4 goals from Jacob. The second match against Stamford was probably the toughest match in the group and they had to work hard to break down a tough defence. Leo controlled the match from the back and with Sam and Matt scoring crucial goals, seeing the second win of the day against Stamford. The third match was against Reeds School and a near perfect Indoor performance saw Dean Close win with a comfortable 5-0 and completing a really good first day. After recharging the batteries overnight (and having Arsenal Football side staying in the same hotel!) In the final group match, the boys beat Manchester Grammar School, qualifying for the Semi Final against Altrincham Grammar School.

The Semi Final was always going to be a tough match but Jacob made a dream start scoring after only 3 minutes! The match was closely fought with several opportunities from both sides and  Oli making fantastic saves. Altrincham then equalised and Dean Close had to step up, Jacob scored a second goal from a short corner and put Dean Close through to the National Indoor Final for the very first time against hosts, Whitgift School.

The National Final was played with an incredible atmosphere in the hall and within the first 9 minutes, both sides had scored. Jacob Payton scoring in the very first minute and again in the 9th minute to make it 2-2. Oli was incredible in goal and as the match went on he had more and more influence on the match saving a penalty stroke too. Dean Close’s defence played incredibly well with outstanding play from Liam and Leo and Richard and Adam working hard in the middle of the pack. Sam , Matt and Jacob always threatening to score. With 3 minutes to go it was still 2 – 2 but Whitgift scored and Dean Close put the pressure on and gained a short corner with 30 secs to go! Jacob narrowly missed but the ball was played back into Adam and his deflection went just past the post!

Director of Hockey Gary Tredgett, said, “What a finish and what a final. Dean Close lost by the smallest margins in an incredible match. Second in the country for an incredible squad, an outstanding achievement. Jacob was awarded Top Goal Scorer in the tournament with an incredible 12 goals. In Oli we had the best Goalkeeper who was given player of the Final and was incredible all weekend. What a performance from every member of the very talented squad.”

The U16 boys also travelled to Whitgift School and had a busy first day playing their first group matches just before the U18 Semi Final. The first match was against Bromsgrove School with Ed scoring early and Dean Close won a difficult first match 1-0.  After watching the U18 Final, Dean Close had a late but important match against Egglescliffe and played well but missed several chances to make the match more comfortable. Goals from Julius and Alex secured the victory 3-1. On the second the boys faced the toughest match in the group against the hosts, Whitgift. Dean Close started the match well, with Joe in goal and Ed at the back, they were a strong team and Alex caused a real threat in attack. On one of his attacks he scored an incredible lobbed goal to put Dean Close 1-0 up and halfway through the second half the boys were still in the lead. Then came a very unfortunate incident when Alex slipped and the Whigift striker scored to equalise but Alex was injured on the follow through of the shot that put the Dean Close Captain out of the rest of the tournament. A draw put Dean Close in a very strong position in the group going into the last match and a good chance of qualifying for the Semi Final. In the quarter final against Bishops Stortford Dean Close started well and scored first through Julius and with Joe having another excellent match in goal and the whole squad fighting hard they qualified for the Semi Final against Ipswich with a 1-1 draw.

The Semi Final was tough with neither side being able to break the score. Dean Close had chances with Nick nearly scoring and in true Indoor drama each side had short corners in the last minute. Ipswich were denied goals by excellent defence from Moritz and then Dean Close Julius being denied by an incredible save from the Ipswich Goalkeeper.  The match ended with penalties and Dean Close missed two of three penalties and unfortunately went out seeing them out of a chance in the Final.

Gary Tredgett said, “Incredible performances from squads who are very new to the Indoor game. All of the teams should be proud of what they have achieved.”