The Autumn term has been a busy one for pupils at Dunhurst. For some this kicked off in the summer, as following a tough selection process last year, they represented the Prep School Lions at the Gothia Youth World Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden. Once term started, we were straight into action as our Wednesday afternoon fixture schedule got underway. With so many pupils eager to represent the school this term, just under 150 fixtures have been played, averaging at 13 teams playing each week. In addition to football, hockey and netball fixtures, pupils have impressed in a number of swimming galas and cross-country events.
We are fortunate to have fantastic sports facilities at Bedales and it wasn’t long before we made the most of these with our annual schedule of host tournaments. These began with our U9 and U11 football festivals for local state schools, before the annual ISFA U11 regional qualifier, which sees the top two teams progress to the national finals at St George’s Park. In early October a whopping 24 teams took part in the U13 football tournaments played across the site. The final event hosted by the school was our annual U13 hockey tournament in which we were delighted to see our girls team come home with silver medals.
House sport has taken off over the last two years and we often find pupils eagerly checking the leader board in the PE department to see how their House is faring against the others. This year’s competition began with a number of hotly contested dodgeball tournaments in year groups, before we moved onto football, hockey and netball. The final House event of the term was the Badley Run. Pupils took on the course with energy and determination, knowing that as a whole school event, double points were on offer, which always significantly impacts the running total.
On a personal level, it has been great to see some of our pupils excelling in sport outside of school as well. A huge congratulations to Miles, Leo and Albie in Group 2 (Year 5) for being selected to represent Hampshire at district level in cricket. Congratulations also to Martha for being selected to play for Southampton Football Academy. Finally, a big well done to Evie, Annie, Marlowe and Annabel for their efforts on the hockey pitch this term which has lead to them being put forward for Hampshire’s Junior Development Centre.
Whilst many core sports have seen some real successes this term, it has also been wonderful to see so many pupils taking up the opportunity to progress their skills in some more specialist sports such as fencing and karate, offered as part of our activities programme. We eagerly await the start of roller hockey and cheerleading in the Spring term!
On Wednesday, the first XI hosted Ryde School. Both sides should be credited for their contribution to a fantastic game – arguably one of the best boys’ first XI games seen on the Astro for a while.
Ryde started strongly, pinning back the Bedales side and deservedly taking a 1-0 lead. It was however, incredibly pleasing to see the Bedales side respond well to this, fighting their way back in to the game through the influential Zach Stewart and deservedly grabbing an equaliser through a well worked short corner – the week of self-directed practice paying off! With the imperious Sol Arbib and his sidekick Bruno Heggie keeping things tight at the back, this allowed the creative influences of Elio Mazas, Sam Gibbon, Jac Wheeler and Felix Bicknell to gain more possession in the right areas and Bedales deservedly took the lead just before half-time with a neat finish from Ben Greening who found himself in the perfect back-post position.
The second half ebbed and flowed, but it was the away side who created more clear cut chances. However, some missed opportunities and superb goalkeeping from captain Josh Baty ensured that Ryde didn’t add to their first goal and after an injury break, Felix Bicknell took advantage of a Ryde re-shuffle, finishing accurately in the far corner to give the Bedales side a perhaps slightly flattering 3-1 margin in a deserved victory.
The best performance so far of the season for the Bedales team against a very competitive opposition.
On Wednesday the boys’ first XI hockey travelled to play Embley Park. The game got off to an absolute flyer with Bedales going 1-0 up with a fast counter-attacking move, replicating their work in training on Monday, finished off neatly by Felix Bicknell. However, almost within seconds Embley had equalised and the score was 1-1 within three minutes. Pleasingly, this set the tone for the remainder of the game, with both sides creating a number of chances. The Embley side contained a number of talented, representative players but this was well matched by the harder-working and slightly more structured Bedales team. The first half saw another three goals, all of a very high calibre; a drag-flick short corner and rasping finish from a tight angle for Embley, alongside a very well worked team goal for Bedales that was finished off by Nate Shuster after excellent work in the middle of the pitch from Jac Wheeler, Zach Stewart and the incredibly productive and fleet-footed Sam Gibbon.
As we moved in to the second half, it was hard to call which way the game would go. Zach maintained his influence in the middle of the pitch and Bedales were productive down the right channel with Elio Mazas and Sam Gibbon. But Embley remained a constant threat going forward and used the aerial ball to maintain territory. However, it is credit to goalkeeper Josh Baty and the defensive unit of Sol Arbib and Bruno Heggie that clear attacking threats were limited to three short corners. At the other end, Bedales created a number of good open play chances but failed to convert and ultimately paid the price when pressing for the equaliser were left exposed at the back and Embley neatly converted to win 4-2. Fantastic game. Credit to both sides for playing their part in a very competitive game.
On Wednesday the first XI travelled to their traditional season opener against Kings’ School, Winchester. Typically, the opposition were well organised and capable on the ball. It was perhaps not surprising then that Kings made the majority of the early attacking play and, despite some impressive defending from Sol Arbib and Joe Cullen, found themselves 2-0 up inside 15 minutes. However, the new look Bedales side began to settle into a rhythm and became more precise moving forward, driven by the influential Zach Stewart and Sam Gibbon.
Bedales created a number of decent chances but unfortunately failed to convert. However, on the stroke of half-time, a moment of individual brilliance and a clinical finish from Jac Wheeler, deservedly pulled Bedales back in to the game.
Despite a well presented half-time talk from captain Josh Baty, the Bedales side weren’t able to match the same intensity levels as the first half and began to lose shape, producing a number of turnovers which were clinically finished by Kings, who came away deserved winners. Plenty of promise from the Bedales side and a clear target of maintaining intensity and structural discipline levels.
Wednesday evening’s hockey fixture saw the girls’ U15 side host Alton School. With a number of enforced changes, this was a new look side and presented a good opportunity for some U14 players to play up an age group. It was therefore encouraging to see the Bedales side make the early attacking advances and play forward with confidence. After a sustained period of attacking play, Bedales forced a penalty corner which was neatly converted from the top of the circle by Iris Biles. 1-0 Bedales at half time.
As the game progressed it was clear to see that the new look Bedales side were becoming increasingly settled, working as a more cohesive unit – much of this being driven by the inside forward pairing of Tilly Wall and Clara Stannah. Having said this, Alton were not without threat going forward and on a number of occasions Bedales were thankful for the presence of Tilly Baty, who calmly dealt with any danger and regularly converted defence into attack, and from one of these she released the impressive Rosy Riley down the right hand side who accelerated around two or three Alton defenders before calmly passing to Clara to slot home.
The game was put beyond down inside the final seven or eight minutes as Annabel Peskett neatly finished at the back post to put Bedales 3-0 up. An excellent performance and a special mention must go to Ella Von Bodecker who performed incredibly well in an unfamiliar position, giving the Bedales a stable structure to work from.
On Wednesday afternoon, the girls’ second XI hockey hosted Westgate School. This turned out to be a wonderfully close and competitive game that went down to the final two minutes.
The first half was well-balanced with both sides creating a number of chances but failing to convert: the central defensive trio of Greta Stillwell, Maya Cressman and Issy Robinson proving to be particularly influential for the Bedales side. Greta, proving to be the provider for the breakthrough as she won a tackle just outside her defensive circle and released a 50m pass to release Rebekah Leach who burst through the defence to calmly slot home against the talented Westgate goalkeeper. However, it was the away side that finished the half the strongest of the two sides, and had it not been for an excellent reaction save from goalkeeper Rosie Voyantzis, they would have drawn level. 1-0 Bedales at half-time.
Westgate continued where they had left off and made the majority of the forward running at the start of the second half and deservedly pulled back level with a finish from close range. This sparked new life in to the Bedales side, with Sage Bidwell and Izzy Land proving to be particularly threatening on the attack. This combined with the ever impressive ball carrying of Ava Sender Logan meant that Bedales had the majority of the attacking possession but struggled to convert chances or penalty corners until the final two minutes when a goal bound shot was partially stopped and then hit a foot on the line: penalty stroke. Up stepped Rebekah Leach to finish in the corner with pretty much the last play of the game. A really exciting and enjoyable game which was a credit to both sides.
On Wednesday, the first XI hosted an incredibly talented and strong Tormead side. The Bedales side were soon on the back foot, conceding two goals in quick succession. However, this seemed to spur them in to life and they adapted to the pace of the game, competing for the ball better and recognising the value of work off the ball. As has been a constant this season, Mathilda Douglas was relentless in her work rate up front and never allowed the Tormead defence to fully settle, but despite this work-rate and the occasional break forward from Rosy Riley, the Bedales side were having to do most of the work in their own half.
The second half saw another step up in performance with Alisia Leach becoming increasingly influential, ably supported by the ever improving Sammy Smith and the creation of a few more ‘half-chances’. But with an abundance of talent in the Tormead side there was never a moment to rest and Captain Esther Stewart was exemplary at the back – tough tackling, timely interceptions and a number of good outlets. Despite this and a never ending determination from all the Bedales players it was Tormead who, deservedly, took home the victory. The first XI will go in to their final game of the season next week with a focus on retaining possession and finishing an already excellent season on a high.
By Esther Stewart, 6.2 and Girls’ First XI Captain
Last Wednesday the girls’ first XI had an early 7am meet to travel to Abingdon for the South Central Regional Hockey Tournament.
With one sub, new short corner tactics and a star addition to the team, we warmed up for our first game against Tudor Hall. We dominated most of the play but found ourselves two nil down at half time. However, a positive half-time team talk and a real focus for the second half we bounced back well. Sammy Smith providing the first moment of inspiration as inside forward carrying the ball into the D and winning a short corner, which followed an exceptional short corner drag flick from Alisia Leach followed by a deflection by Mathilda Douglas, put us back in the game. The opposition managed to get past the halfway line on a few occasions but being 2-1 down we stayed strong and energy levels were high. We finished the game with an exceptional team goal from Rosy Riley. Final score: 2-2.
Our second match against St Mary’s Ascot brought out our competitive side with some short corner battles. This was a tough game, with both sides evenly matched but thanks to our halves, Sasha Arney, Rebekah Leach and Gala Pearson, keeping the pace up and quick turn arounds we stayed strong and ranked up the intensity. St Mary’s managed to get six shorts in a row but the strong defence of Shanklin-Mackillop Hall, Esther Stewart and great saves from Mathilda Gellatly kept the opposition from scoring. The second half saw us fight back, winning multiple shorts but the whistle blew leaving another close draw of 0-0. Nevertheless, we were through to the semi-finals!
In the semi-final, Oxford High gave us a good run for our money, scoring a goal off a short. However, with strong forwards, we stayed positive and Alisia Leach’s famous drag flick secured us a goal in the first half. A few goal attempts – including Leela Walton’s powerful strike in the second half – kept emotions running high. Unfortunately, Oxford High just managed to get their second goal, sending them to the final, but we kept our spirits up and had no regrets, knowing we had played the better than ever.
Congratulations to everyone for being part of the only Bedales team in history to make it to the regional semi-finals!
On Thursday, the U16 girls’ hockey side travelled to Southampton Sports Centre to take part in the Hampshire Trophy Tournament. The format was a mini league with games 15 minutes one way. Things got off to a good start for Bedales, beating Ballard 4-0 with goals from Lola Mackay (who scored two), Rosy Riley and Sienna Marcos Bancroft Cooke. The second game was played out in similar fashion, with Bedales pressing high and posing a constant attacking threat. The strings in the middle of the pitch were pulled by the incredibly impressive Rebekah Leach and Bedales finished 3-0 to St John’s, with Lola Mackay on the score sheet again, alongside Ottilie Douglas and Sage Bidwell/Rebekah Leach.
Ditcham Park were up next and despite a positive start from Bedales, the Ditcham side forced their way back in to the game with a clinical finish on the counter. However, Ottilie was on hand again to put in two goals, even more impressive considering she was now battling through an injury from the previous game. Rosy Riley finished off the game with a superb strike in to the top corner – 4-1. Island Free School were the fourth game on the schedule and a much tighter game ensued, the deadlock being deservedly broken by Rebekah.
The results from all the other games meant that Bedales final game, and third on the bounce would be against Embley Park, the winners of which would progress through to the regional rounds. The game was played at a good speed with both teams looking to attack at every opportunity. It was Embley who took the lead and despite some late high pressing, attacking short corners and chances in the circle, Bedales couldn’t convert and finished runners up in the tournament.
A fantastic day out and the team were an absolute credit to the school, both on and off the pitch. The effort and commitment shown was exemplary. For various reasons the side could only field 11 players and this 11 fought through tiredness, injury and some illness to finish runners up – really impressive. A special mention must also go to Block 4 students Rosy Riley, Siena Marcos Bancroft Cooke and Esmae Gordon who all played up a year and more than held their own.
On Wednesday the girls’ first XI travelled to Embley Park School and played an adapted format game (four quarters as opposed to two halves), which provide a lovely opportunity to rotate a number of positions.
The first quarter involved both sides turning over possession on a regular basis but it was the Bedales side who held most of the attacking territory. A calm finish from Mathilda Douglas after a well worked team move and another goal from a short corner drag flick from Alisia Leach put the Bedales side 2-0 up going in to the first interval. The second quarter saw a ramp up in intensity and better retention of the ball from Bedales, with Mathilda Douglas adding to her tally. The third quarter was probably the stand out for Bedales in terms of attacking possession – the Bedales side attacked at speed and were efficient in front of goal. Kamaya Nelson Clayton picking up a hat-trick inside 15 minutes. The final quarter saw Embley rally and put together some powerful drives in to the circle, deservedly winning a number of penalty corners. However, Bedales captain Esther Stewart, Shanklin Mackillop-Hall and goalkeeper Matilda Gellatly were on hand to keep Embley at bay.
A special mention must go to Sammy Smith, who had arguably her strongest game of the season and deservedly picked up player of the match. An enjoyable game and good preparation as the side head to Abingdon next week for the South Central regional finals.