U13 Loretto Hockey Tournament
Sunday 1st October
The squad: Jessica (captain), Anna, Iona, Isla, Rowan, Maria, Mhairi, Hannah, Rosie & Eliza
Waking up on Sunday morning, you would have been forgiven for thinking there was little to no chance of the Loretto hockey tournament going ahead. It was cold, wet and windy and so foggy in places that visibility was down to about 50 meters! However, once over Soutra, the air seemed to clear sufficiently for both the hockey and rugby tournaments to go ahead.
Six teams had entered the U13 hockey, so the tournament was a round robin format, with all teams playing each other and the two with the most points would go through to the Cup final, teams in 3rd and 4th place would play in the Plate final and 5th and 6th placed teams, in the Bowl final. First up for St. Mary’s was Belhaven.
St. Mary’s 3, Belhaven 0
What a game to kick start our day! Up against a strong Belhaven side, the girls played some fantastic hockey and thoroughly deserved their win. Undoubtedly, this was one of our strongest performances of the season so far. Individually and collectively the girls raised their game. They supported each other in every area of the pitch and worked as hard off the ball as they did on it. Their efforts were rewarded with three excellent goals, courtesy of Mhairi, Jessica and Hannah.
St. Mary’s 2, Loretto 2
With the wounds of the beating we received at the hands of Loretto in our first game of the season, healed, today the girls were out to prove a point. Again, Loretto were good, well drilled and skilful but we dominated the opening minutes of the game. It was Loretto however, who opened the scoring. This seemed to rally the girls and they managed to find another gear. As a result, we scored twice and it looked as though we were going to get the win, but a slight error at the back, gave our hosts an opportunity to equalise, which they took. So, 2-2 was probably a fair reflection of the game; two good sides both giving 100% effort! We were perhaps a little guilty of backing away in defence and allowing the Loretto forwards too much space, something we were going to have to address if we were to progress in the tournament.
St. Mary’s 5, Ardvreck 1
In this, our third game of the day, we took the lead within seconds. We then went on to score another 4 goals fairly quickly, which allowed me to continue rotating the girls, giving all the squad match time and an opportunity to make their mark. Fresh from her dash down the A9 from Inverness, Eliza’s performance in this game was notable. Some great runs saw her make significant in roads into the Ardvreck ‘D’, many of which resulted in either a goal or a short corner. Rosie too had a good game. Positionally, she was very effective and linked really well with her forwards and defenders. Maria and Rowan, both playing in the midfield, tracked back superbly to support Iona and Isla in defence. As a consequence, Ardvreck were always outnumbered in our ‘D’, enabling us to clear the ball quickly and efficiently. Up front, Mhairi, Jessica and Hannah clicked! Some delightful passes, off-loads and first time shots were too much for the Ardvreck defence to handle and the girls proved what tenacious and skilful players they are.
St. Mary’s 1, Cargilfield 0
Having played 3 games and accumulating 7 points in the process, a result against Cargilfield would probably see us at the top of the Pool, so with that in mind, the girls went out with a steely determination. Despite getting the better of a depleted Cargilfield team last week, we knew they would be a different team today and they were! Defensively they were strong and we struggled to find space and time in their ‘D’. The goal we scored was courtesy of a bit of a medley in front of their goal, but that medley got us the goal we needed and the three points. We too were strong at the back. Anna, Isla and Iona were very organised and composed on the ball. Some strong clearances from Anna and great decision making from both Isla and Iona, kept the Cargilfield girls at bay and helped to preserve our clean sheet. This was a great result and put us in a very strong position in the Pool.
St. Mary’s 2, Cundall Manor 2
Going into our last game of the Pool, there really was everything to play for. A win for Cundall would put them at the top of the Pool but anything other than a loss, would see us on top! The battle for second place was also in the balance. In fact I think four teams might easily have made it into second place, depending upon other results, so it really was all to play for. As ever, Cundall were strong. Although perhaps not as skilful as they have been in the past, they were very well structured and used the whole pitch very effectively. The game was in the balance for its entirety. Every goal we scored, they equalised, so there was a sense of relief when the final whistle ended the game at 2 – 2.
With all the scores collated and varified, we had indeed ended the Pool stage in 1st place, having played 5, won 3 and drawn 2. Cundall had finished in 2nd place, so it was to be a St. Mary’s v Cundall final.
Final: St. Mary’s 1, Cundall Manor 0
What an epic battle this was! End to end, corner to corner, it looked as though it was going to end in a draw and so running penalties. That was until Rosie collected the ball and dribbled around a couple of defenders only to be fouled and awarded a short corner. Previous short corners in the tournament had not been very successful, so if ever there was one that needed to go right, it was this one! Rowan injected the ball to Jesicca. The injection was perfect, as was Jessica’s control at the top of the ‘D’. Jessica took the ball into the ‘D’ and fired her shot into the bottom right corner of the goal, beating the keeper and defender guarding the near post. The resulting thud was cheered by the supporting parents and the girls had about 3 minutes to play out. As if the tension wasn’t enough, Cundall were awarded a penalty corner seconds before the final whistle sounded. Rules state that the corner must be played, but once the ball was cleared or crossed the goal line, that would signal the end of the game. The corner was good and Jessica, our runner, got to the top of the ‘D’ before they shot. The ball was cleared out of the ‘D’ but seemingly off a foot, so another penalty corner was awarded. This time, Maria latched onto a loose ball and swept it wide out of the ‘D’.
It was a fantastic if not nerve wracking conclusion to the day. To come away with the trophy was superb and to say the girls (parents and coach too) were chuffed, would be something of an understatement. Congratulations to all the girls. You were brilliant today and I really couldn’t have been more proud.