On Friday 15 November, the U13 1st VII girls’ hockey team travelled to Repton School for the IAPS National hockey finals.  As Regional winners, they had earned their place in the competition and had high hopes of doing well.

It quickly became apparent that the girls had quite a testing pool and in particular a tough first game against Danes Hill School from Surrey. In a nervous-looking performance they had chances but could not take advantage of them; conversely, Danes Hill also created opportunities but were limited by a strong DCPS defence.  Although a win would have been preferable, the 0-0 draw at the closing whistle came as a relief.

The team went on to win all remaining games in their group stage, although there were still some tough encounters –

v Winchester House 2-1
v Downsend 2-0
v The Oratory 1-0 (an amazing save from Sophie Bowcher prevented an equaliser)
v The Downs Wraxall 4-0

This excellent set of results put the team comfortably at the top of the pool group and into the quarter-finals against Cargilfield.  It was at this point the girls appreciated how much of a good thing the hard opening games had been – they had been tested, came out successfully, were now fully into their stride and flying high!

The 2-0 win over Cargilfield was memorable for yet another superb save from Sophie, followed by a reverse stick clearance by Emma Howitt off the DCPS goal line.  The team faced Cheam in the semi-final but achieved a comfortable 3-0 win, leading to the final against Framlingham. They stepped up yet another gear, scoring once and then a second goal with only a couple of minutes left to spare before the final whistle blew.

Dean Close history had been made – the first ever DCPS girls’ team to win a National title.  There were lots of tears and impressively, great empathy and sportsmanship shown towards the Framlingham girls who had just had their hopes dashed, before the fun and celebrations began.

A fantastic and well-earned achievement for a talented group of girls who were excellent sports both on and off the pitch; not to mention DC Head of Hockey Gary Tredgett, who has an uncanny knack of finding, nurturing and coaching national champions!