Girls’ First XI Hockey in the Hampshire Hockey U18 Trophy Tournament

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.

Girls’ Second XI Hockey v Churcher’s College

By Jamie King, Teacher of PE & Sport

The girls’ second XI hockey team travelled to Churcher’s College for their first game in many months on Wednesday. Churcher’s were combative and difficult to contain, but with the help of some versatility from Greta Stilwell, who played in three different positions during the match, we were able to draw level at 1-1.

Our first goal came with Ottilie finishing the move after a lively and skiful drive into the D by the ever busy and purposeful Sage Bidwell. Ultimately, the game would be lost (final score: 8-2) but there were some very promising passages of play with the two Bedales wingers – including captain Anna Tasker and Rosy Riley – lighting up the attacking line and causing lots of problems for the opposition. The second Bedales goal was a wonderful individual effort from Rosy, who broke free down the right wing and cut into the ‘D’, finishing decisively in the bottom corner. 

There were excellent performances in defence from Maya Cressman and Lula Goldring, who were often facing an attacking overload but continued to put in strong tackles and vital clearances. The moment of the game came after a deflected long-range shot seemed destined or the Bedales top corner, only to be denied by an outstanding one-handed tip over the bar from goalkeeper Rosie Voyantzis. It was an excellent game showing lots of promise for the season ahead. Our Monday practice sessions will continue to develop the team’s cohesiveness and fitness levels. Well done to everyone involved!

Match report: Girls’ First XI Hockey v Churcher’s College

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

There was a sense of nervousness and excitement on the Astro on Wednesday as the girls’ first XI hockey team were back in action after a COVID enforced break. The team knew they had to be ‘switched on’ as they were facing a quality opposition in Churcher’s first XI and the match certainly lived up to expectations with both sides looking to play good hockey. It was Churcher’s who held the majority of attacking possession, but good saves from Tilda Gellatly and some timely interceptions from Shanklin Mackillop-Hall kept the Churcher’s side at bay for the majority of the first half. This, alongside the impressive Alisia Leach and phenomenal work-rate of forwards Mathilda Douglas and Kamaya Nelson Clayton, made for an enthralling encounter.

As the game moved into the second half, an unfortunate deflected own goal put the Churcher’s side 2-0 up. But, by virtue of her ‘do as I do’ approach, captain Esther Stewart kept the team focused and an exceptional stick save from the Churcher’s goalkeeper stopped Mathilda Douglas’ brave attempt to bring Bedales back into the game. As the match progressed, tiredness crept in and an increasing number of opportunities fell to the Churcher’s side – although it is fair to say that without the presence and influence of Rebekah Leach at centre-half, there would have been a greater number of opportunities.

At the final whistle, it was a deserved victory for Churcher’s, but there are a huge amount of positives for the Bedales side to take into the Hampshire U18 Trophy Tournament next week.

Bedales Summer Hockey Festival

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

Last Friday saw the culmination of the Bedales Summer Hockey Festival. This has run for six weeks in the Summer Term, with over 70 students signed up and good representation from all year groups. I think it is a real credit to Bedales Hockey that we are able to produce a culture that facilitates these opportunities. Week in, week out, it has been incredibly pleasing to see every single player and team consistently perform at a good level and striking the right competitive balance.  

Finals day was no different, with extremely close match ups in the semi-finals between Team Wheeler vs Team Mackillop-Hall and Team Upton vs Team Shuster. It was Team Mackillop-Hall and Team Shuster who came out on top and went on to produce a tight and exciting final that had to eventually be settled by a round of penalty shuffles. Congratulations to Team Shuster who eventually emerged as winner.

In another closely run competition the ‘Golden Stick Award’ for the festival’s top goal scorer – which featured an incredible 18 different goal scorers – was won by Block 4 student Joe Cullen.

Thank you to Mariela Walton, who was instrumental in the smooth running of the festival.

Match report: Girls’ Hockey First XI v Barton Peveril College

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

On Wednesday the girls’ hockey first team travelled to play Barton Peveril College in the second match of a three-game series. With the boys having lost last week, and the opposition able to field a couple of national league hockey players as well as an England international, we knew we would have to perform to the best of our ability to stay in the game. Unfortunately, however, we got off to a slow start, and despite some outstanding work at centre half from Shanklin Mackillop-Hall, the Bedales side found themselves down 4-0 in the first quarter. The second quarter saw the Bedales side start to adjust to the pace of the game, but Barton Peveril remained too strong and added another two goals to their tally.

An incredibly productive half-time talk and some inspirational words from newly appointed captain Esther Stewart seemed to do the trick, as the Bedales side came out battling in the second half and slowly they started gaining more possession and creating more attacking possession. The right hand side of the pitch was particularly productive, with some nice link-up play between Leela Walton and Block 3 debutant Rosy Riley. Another debutant, Katie Mansbridge, was also impressive, working tirelessly alongside the ever consistent Sasha Arney.
 
The final quarter saw the best period of play for Bedales, as they created chances and the resolute defence of Maya Cressman, Shanklin, Esther, Leela and Lula Goldring kept Barton Peveril at bay.
 
What was incredibly pleasing to see was the work ethic and the team ethos that had been created. There was nothing left to give from the team: an attitude that can’t be faulted. All promising signs for next season.

Match report: First/Second XI Girls’ Hockey v Gordon’s School

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

On Wednesday afternoon, we were both pleased and excited to host Gordon’s School for a first and second team girls’ hockey fixture. This was the first time the two schools had met, but knowing the calibre of Gordon’s, we knew we would be in for an incredibly tough two games.

In the first team match, Gordon’s came out blazing, going 1-0 up with an excellent reverse stick finish inside the first five minutes and within 15 minutes a slightly shell-shocked Bedales side found themselves 4-0 down. However, slowly but surely, the Bedales side picked up the pace of the game and started to earn more possession, increasing their pattern of passes and attacking threat, much of which was implemented by the impressive Alisia Leach.

Credit to the Gordon’s side who continued to move the ball round well in the second half and were a constant threat going forward. The scoreline could have been vastly different if it weren’t for the numerous tackles and interceptions made by centre half Rebekah Leach and the two full backs, Esther Stewart and Shanklin Mackillop-Hall. Towards the end of the second half, the Bedales side earned themselves a consolation goal – the hard-working Sasha Arney, chasing down a ‘lost cause’ to bravely bundle the ball over the line following a freak deflection off the post. Fantastic game against a quality opposition.

The second XI game was a much closer affair, with the Bedales team the more threatening in the first half, mainly down to the incredible stick skills of Anna Tasker at left forward and the incredibly impressive Sage Bidwell at right forward. At half-time, Bedales were 2-0 to the good, with a debut goal for Issy Robinson and a calm finish from Kamaya Nelson-Clayton, following a fantastic drive to the baseline from Sage.

The second half was a different story as the Gordon’s side shut down many of our attacking outlets and gained more and more sustained possession in and around our defensive circle. Goalkeeper Rosie Voyantzis and the full back pairing of Lally Arengo-Jones and Maya Cressman were all incredibly impressive but couldn’t stop a strong comeback from Gordon’s, who ended up winning 3-2.
 
A fantastic afternoon of hockey.

Match report: 6.1 Girls v Boys Hockey

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

Last Thursday, the 6.1 girls played against the 6.1 boys in what has now become an annual fixture for this cohort, having originated in Block 3.

Having won the last three years, the boys approached the game with confidence, possibly neglecting some valuable preparation time and were caught on the hop as the girls came flying out the blocks. Goalkeeper Patrick Bell and the central defensive pairing of Bade George-Coker and Archie Tier were the saviours for the boys’ team. However, with relentless attacking pressure from the girls – in particular Alisia Leach, Sasha Arney and Mathilda Douglas – it was only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken, with Alisia flicking in a low, powerful shot from a short corner to the delight of a partisan crowd.

An inspirational half-time team talk from the managerial team of Joseph Thanki and Harry Hornsby saw the boys’ team start the second half with renewed vigour. Despite this, and the skilful, quick attacking exploits of Paddy Arrowsmith, Joe Withers and Jamie King, the girls remained resolute, with Esther Stewart and Shanklin Mackillop-Hall, as ever, providing a calming influence at the back. As the boys’ fitness levels began to drop the girls’ side came into the game more and more. Increasing influence from Gala Pearson and Fleur Donovan ensured the girls side retained more attacking possession. Despite one last breakaway attempt from the influential Cosmo Hurwitz, the girls’ team held their nerve to emerge victorious.

Once again a really enjoyable game. Bring on the final game in 6.2…!

Match report: First XI v ‘All-Stars’ girls’ hockey

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

On Wednesday, the much anticipated hockey fixture between the first XI and ‘all-stars’ took place. The all-stars squad was made up of a number of the top performers across Blocks 3, 4 and 5, and was assembled to deliberately challenge a talented and hard-working first team.

As anticipated, the first team came out firing on all cylinders and looking to take advantage of the new look opposition, who were trying to find their feet. However, the all-stars managed to survive the initial onslaught, much owed to England trialist goalkeeper Josh Baty, who had kindly stepped in to fill that position to ramp the game up another notch. Despite the bulk of the attacking possession falling to the first team it was the all-stars who took the lead, through a fine individual goal from Kamaya Nelson-Clayton.

As the game progressed, Rebekah Leach began to have more and more influence for the all-stars, winning numerous tackles, interceptions and displaying an excellent range of passing. The final 10 minutes of the half saw a thoroughly entertaining battle between Rebekah and her equally impressive sister Alisia, who was driving the first team forward. However, no more goals were added and the first team went in 1-0 down.

The second half saw a further ramp up in intensity from the first team, driven by the tireless Mathilda Douglas, who was constant threat. But 15 minutes in and the all-stars defence had stood firm: with Block 3 Eliza Hayward in outstanding form. The all-stars team were now reduced to breakaways and counter-attacks but with the skilful Clara Stannah and pacey Rosy Riley they were always a threat.

However, a mature and calm approach from Esther Stewart and Shanklin Mackillop-Hall ensured nothing came from these breakaways and this calmness began to spread through the first team, firstly,with Gala Pearson cooly converting the equalizer after a melee in the D and then finally with Mathilda Douglas drilling home a deserved goal for her and a deserved winner for the first team. The final result was 2-1 in a competitive and enjoyable fixture. I am sure there will be calls for a replay (and hopefully so!)

Match report: Block 3 v Block 4 girls’ hockey

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

Wednesday afternoon saw the rematch of the Block 3 v Block 4 Hockey match. With both teams making improvements as the season has progressed, it was incredibly pleasing to see them transfer these in to a match scenario.

The game started at a great pace and huge credit to both teams who managed to maintain this pace for the duration of the match, highlighting not only their fitness levels but increasing technical ability. There was very little to choose between the two sides and it was deep in to the second half before the deadlock was eventually broken as Ottilie Douglas managed to sneak a goal past the incredibly impressive debutante goalkeeper, Mila Lloyd-Stevens, to put the Block 4 team 1-0 up.

The Block 3 side were always a threat going forward with the skilful Clara Stannah consistently linking with the impressive forward running trio of Evie Donovan, Rosy Riley and Lucy Standish. However, the Block 4 side remained defensively strong, much of this owed to the work of Greta Stillwell, who made an impressive dash from an appointment to make the game in time and Rebekah Leach, who alongside her excellent work rate, stood out for her composure on her ball.

There was one final piece of goalmouth action as the Block 4 side converted a final minute penalty corner to win the game 2-0.

Match report: 6.1 v Block 5 girls’ hockey

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

Wednesday saw another round of internal hockey fixtures and the first game of the season ‘under the lights’. Both the Block 5 and 6.1 teams had been particularly impressive in training over the last week or so, but it was the 6.1 team who burst out of the blocks with centre forward Mathilda Douglas looking particularly threatening, putting her team 2-0 up within the opening 10 minutes. A high press from the 6.1s ensured constant attacking pressure and a cool finish from Fleur Donovan, followed by a completion of a first half hat trick from Mathilda, led the 6.1s into the break 4-0 to the good.

The game was in danger of running away from the Block 5s, but a re-group at half time saw a much improved performance and it was the Block 5s who opened the scoring, through the ever dangerous Kamaya Nelson-Clayton. Despite constant attacking pressure from the 6.1s the Block 5 side stood firm with some excellent tackling from Ava Sender Logan and always posing a threat on the counter attack from Zoe Lobbenberg and Kamaya. As the game developed we saw more and more of the increasingly impressive Lally Arengo-Jones and captain, Leela Walton.

Despite the improved performance from the Block 5s the 6.1 team deservedly scored again, once again a fantastically calm finish from Fleur.

The Block 5s are in action again next week versus the Block 4s. The 6.1s will have to wait a couple of weeks before they take on the ‘all-star’ team.