St George's U13 hockey teams do the double

Friday 11 May, 2018 was a momentous day for St George's College, with the U13 boys' and girls' hockey teams doing the double and both being crowned champions in the In2Hockey National Finals.

After both teams reached the National Finals in 2015, it was clear that St George's was dealing with a very special group of players, and although on that occasion both teams came away with bronze medals a piece, there were clear signs of bigger things to come.

First step on the road to the National Finals was the Surrey Finals. The U13 girls comfortably saw off all the competition to win the cup, whilst the boys' team finished the tournament with some straightforward block fixture wins and a crushing 5-0 win against local rivals Kingston Grammar School in the final to be crowned Champions as well.

Following the success of the Surrey Finals, it was time to compete in the South Finals, with the winners of this going on to compete in the National Finals. Although the boys' squad lost influential player James Cake to injury just before the tournament started, the rest of the side regrouped and showcased real strength in depth to defeat all that came before them. They beat a seriously strong Whitgift School side on penalty strokes in the semi-final, before defeating old foes Kingston Grammar School once more in the final to be crowned South Hockey Champions. 

Just like the boys, the girls were in imperious form and put in some superb performances to reach the South Finals, where they came up against Surbiton High School. It was always St George's final to lose and the girls worked well as a team, putting in another supreme performance to win 3-1 and join the boys as South Hockey Champions.

The next and final step on this road to success was the National Finals on Friday 11 May at Beeston Hockey Club in Nottingham. 

U13 Boys' National Final results

Head of Boys' Hockey and U14 Head Coach, Mr Hughes, has written a report on the boys' progress throughout the National Finals' day.

"First up for the boys was King's School Chester. With their GK coached by former Wales and GB star Chris Ashcroft, we knew we had to make some great decisions in the attacking 3rd if we were to score. Through some slick set pieces, a trademark Dylan Parry drag flick and 3 more quick goals, the first game ended with a 5-0 victory.

Back to the old adage of “don’t lose your second game”! Next up was a seriously tactically intelligent Monkton side. It’s fair to say St George’s never got to grips or solved the problems caused by outletting the way they did. In the first half, Monkton scored a superb breakaway goal and St George's went in to the break 1-0 down. The second half was end to end with both sides having plenty of chances. Nevertheless, it was St George's who got the breakthrough and the game finished 1-1. With Theo Wood injured, a special mention must go to the ever ready Finn Bigwood. Against Monkton, Finn lead the forward line in pressing and attacking with great calm, technical assurance and dogged determination.

The 3rd game once again saw us pitted against a superb young goal keeper. This time playing for Oakham. Although it took us a few minutes to finally find our stride, we quickly got going and dominated the opposition to win 4-0. This game will always be remembered as the game where Kyran Magimay rolled back the years and put on a Centre Midfield master class. Also, with more players scoring, if Will DiBiase could score in one of the remaining games, all 9 outfield players would have made the score sheet on the day.

Just like the U14 Finals, ‘The Perse’ stood between St George’s College and a place in the National Final. St George's were 2-1 up after half-time and the game was finely poised, when goalkeeper David Woods stole the limelight as he made one of the finest stick saves that you are ever likely to see! And then, Arthur Owens set off on another powerful, mazy run. This time, he saw his brother all alone on the back post and in true Georgian style, selflessly gave Willem the easiest of tap-ins. 3-1 and St George’s boys had qualified for the National Final.

Facing St George's in the final was West winners, Launceston; who had battled against all the odds to defeat every hockey powerhouse that had been thrown their way.

The National final started off with 2 penalty corners in quick succession to Launceston. Arthur Owens bravely ran them both down before setting up speedy counter attacks for St George's. On one such counter attack, Ben Jansen played a beautiful backhand pass through to Owens who calmly rounded the keeper and rolled the ball into the back of an open goal. Throughout the day and especially in the final, tactically Theo Wood, Dylan Parry and James Cake undertook their defensive duties with huge maturity and desire. Nonetheless, the attacking prowess of the St George's machine knew no bounds and a 3 minute spell in the final will remain with me forever as both our left back (James Cake) and right back (Will DiBiase) unpicked the Launceston press, drove forward and scored open play goals. 3-0 at half time quickly became 4 and 5, and just like that, the National title was ours!!

As we congratulated everyone we could find, we wiped the tears of elation from our faces and did what any good Georgian would do, headed over to the girls' final to cheer on our female counterparts who had gone to penalties…

The pillars of humility, politesse and douceur are easily talked about but rarely truly shown in a school boys' team. This side has them and continues to show them in abundance. Let’s see what they can now achieve as an U14 age group."

U13 Girls' National Final results

In the girls' competition, it was plain sailing for St George’s through the group stage, as they battled well, worked hard for each other and as a result, topped the group stage winning 4 matches from 4.

In the other pool, Surbiton High School topped their group winning all 4 matches.

As Millfield School and Redmaids' High School battled it out for 3rd place, St George's prepared themselves for a National Final against Surbiton High School. 

Although both sides had got through their group stages comfortably and were full of confidence, the final was a much more tense affair, with both sides keeping it tight and not making any mistakes. As a result, there were no goals during the final itself, it finished 0-0, which meant it all came down to penalty strokes. 

With parents, coaches and the U13 boys' team (who had run over to cheer on their counterparts) all watching on nervously, St Georges U13 girls had nerves of steel as they defeated Surbiton 3-2 to become National Final Champions! 

It is a remarkable achievement that both teams have been crowned National Champions and no other school has ever done the double like this, so a huge congratulations to the players, coaches and everyone who took part in these competitions! 

25 May 2018

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