Loretto Hockey Tournament
Sunday 30th September
The squad: Hannah C (cpt), Anna M (GK), Molly S, Amelie G, Emma SW, Lara J, Eliza M, Rosie P & Mhairi B
A couple of last minute changes to today’s format, saw the teams in each Pool change so we had to revise plans slightly. These changes saw us in a Pool with Loretto A, Belhaven B and Ardvreck and following our success winning the tournament last year, the girls were keen to give their utmost this year too. First up we had Ardvreck.
St. Mary’s 3, Ardvreck 0
This was a great start to the day. Confident on the ball, the girls gelled well and were passing the ball superbly. A short corner early on saw Molly deflect home the girl’s opening goal. This boosted belief in themselves and from there the girls went from strength to strength. Further goals from Hannah & Mhairi sealed the win, but plaudits were showered on all the girls for a strong and determined opening game.
St. Mary’s 2, Belhaven B 0
Our game with Belhaven was another good game. As ever, Belhaven were feisty and for the opening five minutes, they gave a very good account of themselves. The game was very open and both teams created chances. It was Hannah who made the most of her chances and she broke the deadlock about half way through the game. She too secured the win for the girls a few moments later, following a lovely move from the back. The girls were worked hard in this game. Rosie, Eliza, Emma and Lara had to work back for much of the game to support Molly and Amelie at the back. However, that combination was superb and once again, Anna in goal kept a clean sheet.
Loretto A 2, St. Mary’s 2
This, our final Pool game, was always going to be our toughest and so it proved to be. However, offensively we were strong and Hannah, Mhairi, Eliza, Rosie, Emma and Lara put the Loretto defence under considerable pressure. This pressure eventually paid off and we took the lead courtesy of some great skills in front of goal from Hannah but Loretto soon equalised. Fairly late on in the game we again got our noses in front but moments later a second short corner for Loretto provided them with another equaliser. Both the Loretto goals came from balls being deflected off St. Mary’s sticks around Anna’s pads, so more communication at the back was going to prove to be crucial. The game finished honours even and that meant that we had won our Pool and so would play the runners up of Pool B which was Gullane Hockey Club, the Cup semi final.
St. Mary’s 1, Gullane HC 0
We had watched the Gullane girls play their morning games so knew they were a strong and skilful side. However, making the semi finals had fuelled the girls with another shot of adrenaline, so they were more than up for the challenge! The game was very balanced. Both teams threatened but some superb defending kept the score goalless. Gullane played the game with no goal keeper so had eight outfield players and that extra body proved very difficult to pass. However, about half way through the tie, some lovely passing saw the ball threaded through to Hannah who then slotted home the only goal of the game. This was a very good win for the girls whose work rate and team spirit were proving very useful weapons!
The other semi final saw Cargilfield beat Loretto, so the final was to be a repeat of last Wednesday, St. Mary’s v Cargilfield.
St. Mary’s 1, Cargilfield 1
What a thrilling game this was. Last Wednesday Cargilfield had got the better of us over forty minutes, but the girls had more than matched them over twenty. So, this twelve minute final was most certainly up for grabs! We got off to a fantastic start and within three minutes Hannah had given us the lead. As expected Molly, Amelie and Anna were put under immense pressure but time after time they closed down the Cargilfield attack. Cargilfield did find the equaliser, a fantastic strike from the edge of the D which found the bottom corner. Cargilfield then went on to win a couple of short corners in quick succession, but Molly, Rosie, Eliza, Amelie and Anna were alert to the threats and prevented a single strike on goal.
The whistle signalled the end of the game, so poised at 1 -1 meant that the tournament would be decided on running penalties. Five girls would each have ten seconds to dribble the ball from the half way line into the D and score. If, after five penalties each the score was tied, a further three penalties would decide the result.
We decided that Hannah, Molly, Eliza, Rosie and Mhairi would take the penalties, in that order. Cargilfield went first and scored, as did Hannah, 1 – 1. Cargilfield’s second penalty taker also beat Anna by drawing her to one side and then moving around her and scoring in the bottom right corner. Molly’s penalty was superbly saved giving Cargilfield a 2 – 1 advantage. They then scored their third penalty which gave them a 3 – 1 lead, so Eliza had to score. Despite the pressure, she kept a cool head and scored to bring us back within one, the score now 3 – 2. By this time Anna was furious for having not saved any of the first three (despite them being unsavable!) and for the next penalty she pulled off a fantastic save which meant that if Rosie scored, she would level the shoot-out. With each penalty the pressure built but Rosie knew her plan, stuck to it and fired home the equaliser! So, with just one penalty a piece remaining, one moment of brilliance, be it from a keeper or striker, would prove the difference. And once again, Anna’s agility and knowledge of angles proved invaluable. As the Cargilfield striker approached, she forced her wide, narrowing her angle which resulted in her shot being aimed at the near post which Anna had covered and the ball rebounded off her pads and behind the line. So, having gone from 3 – 1 down, to 3 – 3, Mhairi now had the task of taking the final penalty. Score and we’d win, miss and it would go to a further round of penalties. Spectators and players froze as Mhairi’s ten second count down commenced. In fact the only person moving was the Cargilfield keeper who had been very active throughout. To take any penalty requires guts and nerve, but to take the final one, takes an enormous amount of bravery. However, as with the four who went before her, Mhairi knew exactly what she had planned and with a calmness that belied the situation, she pushed the ball beneath the keeper. The thud of the ball against the back of the goal was drowned out by the shrieks from the girls.
Penalty shoot-out: St. Mary’s won 4 – 3
I was so proud of the girls. Each one played their crucial part in getting to and winning the final. Their determination and team spirit, as well as their ability on the ball and relentless tenacity was noted by everyone who had the pleasure of watching.
A superb performance! Many congratulations.