On Monday 25 February, the RGS Under 14 Hockey team travelled to London for the England Hockey National finals, held at Lee Valley Stadium.
The squad started the day with a team breakfast, followed by a lovely walk through the Olympic Park to the stadium. This inspiring route provided a chance to have photos taken alongside the Olympic rings. On arrival at the international stadium, the girls settled into the important business of preparing for their first match. Walking out onto the Olympic pitch was exciting, but the girls were focused on the first game of the pool against Surbiton High School. They were a strong opposition and the RGS defence was challenged. When 2-0 down at half time the team were reminded of their strengths and the processes they had applied throughout the journey to get them to this level. Nerves began to settle in the second half, and with some attacking opportunities but no goals, the game finished in a 0-2 loss.
The girls came out much more confident in the second pool game against Clifton College, and even after conceding a goal, continued to have an attacking dominance. Clifton scored another breakaway goal, but a penalty corner in the final minutes resulted in captain, Alice Atkinson, Year Nine, scoring from the top of the D with an excellent strike. The game finished 1-2 to Clifton College, but the performance was certainly something of which to be proud.
The final group game was against Norwich School and yet again the performance level was stepped up by RGS. In a tight game, 0-0 at half time, the girls were asked to be tough and resilient in the second half and they certainly did what was required, creating an attacking opportunity for Elyssia Letori, Year Nine, to score and conclude with a 1-0 win for RGS. Finishing third in the pool and equal fifth in the country is an excellent achievement. RGS are very proud of the performances on the pitch, but also the way in which the girls conducted themselves throughout the entire trip. Their squad cohesion and camaraderie epitomise what we are trying to create in all our sports teams at RGS. All sixteen members of the squad played their part in this event, and the opportunity to play amongst the top eight schools in the country was created by the girls through a long season of hard work and commitment to RGS Hockey. We hope that the girls have memories to last a lifetime from this adventure, but that it won’t be the last time an RGS pupil or team steps out onto the Olympic pitch.
Congratulations to the squad: Eva Barry, Alice Atkinson, Lara Shaw, Darcy Gray, Ellie Nicholls,Poppy Hobson, Eleanor Fawcett, Ellie Allen, Katie Ralph, Phoebe Seymour-Perry, Emily Harper,Teyah Farmer, Theodora Hall, Amelie Heyburn, Elyssia Letori, Kaylani Zulkiplee