The U14 girls were sitting top of the table as they came to their last group match but anything less than a draw would have resulted in a drop to 3rd place and elimination from the nationwide competition. The day started ominously with the news that one of our valuable mid-fielders, Fiora Moscuzza, was ill. Blue Hornets were without any subs. Ipswich lay in wait and it was clear from previous results that they would be the toughest opposition that the Hornets had faced this season. And so it proved, with the girls 1-0 down at half-time. But that only tells part of the story. For the opening 10 minutes, Ipswich barely touched the ball as the Hornets passed the ball around, playing some of their best hockey of the season. However it was clear that Ipswich were playing a defensive formation with all players behind the ball making it very tough to break through their (strong) line of defence. Despite numerous chances and short corners, the Hornets' finishing touch wasn't there and then, agonisingly, Ipswich scored with a breakaway move and their first shot on goal.
To be a goal down after such a dominant display could have broken the spirit of a lot of teams but to the girls' credit they picked themselves up, worked as hard as ever - and went back to missing chance... after chance.... after chance. Ipswich had 'parked the bus' in front of their goal but despite that the Hornets really should have been well ahead, and yet 1-0 it remained as the clock counted down. If the Ipswich defence couldn't be broken, at least the same applied to our girls' resolve and determination. The match report will always state that the equaliser - when it finally came 3 minutes before the end - was scored by Ellie Barlow (thank you Ellie!), but anyone watching will testify that the grinding out of this hard fought draw was the epitome of a team effort. With no subs on hand the girls worked relentlessly to get the result they needed, if not the result they deserved.
And so it's a club first - no Blue Hornets U14 girls side has ever reached the Regional Finals, and all that with a side who will nearly all still be in the same age group next year. There's much to do ahead of the Regionals - short corner practice being the main one! That and getting Affrica a new - longer - stick. (Never has the air just above the ball taken such a hiding as it did on Sunday...). Only other mention is Olivia Hoare with the Player of the Match award (selected by Jenny, I should add!) for a huge work rate throughout and barely wasting a pass all match. A huge team effort though and the girls and all parents should be very proud. Brilliant.