The girls attack the Surbiton goal.
For the second time in consecutive years, Cambridge City U14 Girls came away from the EH National Finals as silver medallists after a fantastic day of hockey at Lee Valley, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The girls started their day with a pool match against ISCA who started very strongly but were unable to break down Cambridge’s strong defence with Joanna Saunderson and Rebecca Maylon particularly effective. As the match went on, Cambridge overcame their nerves and increasingly took control of the match although were frustratingly unable to score until the final few minutes when goals from Olivia Clegg following a short corner and Helena Russell in open play gave them a well-deserved 2-0 win and took them to the top of their pool.
The second match of the day was against Reading who had also won their first pool match and it proved to be a much sterner test for the girls. However, they played some excellent hockey and managed to score two goals in the first half with Clegg (penalty stroke) and Russell (open play) again on the scoresheet to give them a good lead by half time. Reading came back strongly and their persistent pressure resulted in them being awarded a penalty stroke which was well taken and gave Ana Sear, the Cambridge goalkeeper, no chance of saving. At this point the match was well balanced with Reading pushing for an equaliser and Cambridge determined to maintain, and even extend, their lead and the match became very open and exciting to watch. Cambridge continued to defend well with Milly Wych and Lucy Ewbank at the back largely preventing any serious attacks on the Cambridge goal whilst the midfield held firm and supported some dangerous forays into the Reading goal area. Katie Curtis, Francesca Kent and Elizabeth Minshall in particular made a series of penetrating runs which, unfortunately, came to nothing so that the match finished 2-1 to Cambridge City.
The girls went into their final pool match against Alderley Edge knowing that a draw would see them into the final of the competition. They took control of the match from the outset with the midfield team of Eve Meakin, Sophie Smart, Tilly Borrett and Sofia Traversone passing some excellent balls through to the front players. Cambridge were 3-0 up by half time with goals from Helena Russell and a brace from Izzie Arnold including a beautifully taken overhead finish. Although the girls continued to pepper the Alderley Edge goal in the second half, they were unable to extend their lead but finished the match delighted that they had secured their place in the final.
The girls were determined to play their best in the final against Surbiton, the team that had beaten them in the final in the previous year. Unfortunately, their opponents came out very strongly and the girls quickly found themselves having to defend against wave after wave of Surbiton attacks. A long series of short corners were bravely resisted by Ana Sear and her defenders but, almost inevitably, ultimately resulted in the first goal for Surbiton. Two further goals from open play followed so that Cambridge City were 3-0 down by half time. Although the girls played much stronger in the second half with excellent runs from Katie Curtis and Izzie Arnold which seriously troubled the Surbiton defence, they were unable to score whilst Surbiton managed to put a fourth past Cambridge.
The girls ended their day disappointed to have lost out again to a very strong Surbiton team, but having had an amazing and enjoyable day. Thanks are due to everyone at Cambridge City Hockey Club who has contributed towards giving this team of talented girls the opportunity of having such a special day at the home of England Hockey but especially to the coaching team of George Wych, Mike Mitcham and, above everyone, Phil Clegg who bows out of coaching at Cambridge City after seven years. Thank you Phil, you will be a very hard act to follow.