By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey
On Wednesday, the incredibly committed girls’ first XI hockey team travelled to Southampton Sports Centre to take part in the Hampshire Hockey U18 Trophy Tournament. After a sporadic two years of hockey, this was always going to be a tough ask, both physically and mentally. Things got off to a tough start as the Bedales side faced a direct and powerful KES Southampton side and were unfortunate to lose the influential Alisia Leach when a rogue lifted ball struck her ankle. The first game ended in a 2-0 loss for Bedales.
It is, however, a huge testament to this side that they regrouped. Alisia returned to play through injury and the team were determined to bounce back, Ruby Cole sparking some inspiration with her tough tackling, timely interceptions and accuracy when building an attack. The next two games followed very similar patterns: a lot of attacking possession but not enough finesse in the final third and opposition always a threat on the counter attack. However, this was consistently dealt with by full backs Shanklin Mackillop-Hall (fresh from completing her Gold DofE) and captain Esther Stewart striking the right balance of being calm in possession and combative when looking to win tackles and make interceptions and an emergence of Gala Pearson winning a lot of ball high up the pitch. This resulted in two 1-0 victories and put the Bedales side back in chance of coming in the top two places.
The fourth game was a 1-1- draw in a competitive and enthralling game vs Lord Wandsworth College B. Confidence was now flowing through the Bedales side, with Rebekah Leach pulling the strings from centre half and Leela Walton dominating in possession.
The final game vs Peter Symonds’ second XI was by far the best performance. The deadlock was broken from a deflected short corner strike that was brought down neatly by Rebekah and calmly slotted home and this was followed up with a thoroughly deserved hat-trick for the ever threatening Mathilda Douglas, who was assisted greatly by the driving forward runs of Sasha Arney and unbelievable work rate jumping back and winning the ball from Kamaya Nelson Clayton.
The side have now qualified to go through to the regional rounds in November. This is only the second time ever that a Bedales side has reached this level and the team should be incredibly proud of themselves.