U12 Boys Regional In2Hockey Tournament
A squad of ten made their way to Northwood on Sunday 30th April to compete in the Regional Finals of the seven a side In2Hockey tournament. In the group stages we surprised our opposition with our direct attacking play. With regular rotation, to keep the levels of intensity up, we secured a vital win in our first of three group games. With Ollie providing the goal we beat Marden 1-0. Next up were South Berkshire who, having lost their first game, had to get something out of this tie. We maintained our style of play and hard work the beat them 2-0 with Ollie and Max scoring the goals. With each game at the group stage being 15 minutes long and played at a relentless pace we were beaten by Surbiton in our last game 3-0. We knew on our way into the match that we have qualified out of the group into the quarter finals of the main competition.
From the quarter finals onwards the games were 10 minutes each way. Our quarter final was against Marlow who clearly thought they would be getting the better of us. This was not the case though with superb overall play from the whole squad. Chris apitomised the overall effort of the squad and sustained a nasty injury to his jaw three quarters of the way through the match, putting him out of the rest of the competition. He was making a crucial tackle to stop a break away attack that ultimately influenced the result. Blake made a number of crucial saves, much to the dismay of the opposition but to the delight of the crowd. Winchester came away 2-1 winners with this time Joe and Max scoring the goals.
Next up was the semi-final against Canterbury. The winners would be certain of progressing to the National Finals. Despite their undoubted pedigree Canterbury came up against a well organised, committed Winchester side. We defended like I had never seen before - Blake again proving impossible to beat in goal, Dom, Fin and Jack swapping defensive duties with Henry (C), Milo, Max, Joe and Ollie sharing the mid field and forward roles - chasing down every ball and pressuring their key players from the moment they had the ball. This had Canterbury rattled and ultimately no team could break the deadlock. The tie came down to penalties with Max, Henry and Ollie all stepping up for the penalty shootout. If the scores were still level then sudden death applied - with the same three players taking any remaining penalties. After the first three flicks it was level at two apiece - Blake making a great save to level the scores. Unfortunately Canterbury were successful in the sudden death part of the shootout leaving a very disappointed team. The team rallied round to console and support each other to get ready for the 3/4 place play off against Guildford.
The 3/4 place game was superb from both sides and with two minutes to go Guildford were 3-1 up. They had not counted on the fighting spirit that had been in the team most of this season that seemed to reached a peak in this game. With Max having scored our first goal, a lovely bit of direct play saw Ollie tuck home the second goal with only a minute remaining on the clock. After winning the ball back quickly from the re-start we worked the ball back to Dom who stormed through to fire home a goal from a very tight angle on the right hand side of the D. Wild celebrations followed - and so did more flicks. Unfortunately fate favoured Guildford on this occasion with Winchester losing out during sudden death. Crucially though Ollie, Max and Henry again stepped forward to participate in the flick competition despite the earlier events - very gutsy from each of them.
At the presentations the organisers had nothing but praise for Winchester reminding us that we had proved ourselves to be the fourth best team in the South of England. Well done to all the boys for their efforts - the success was fully deserved.
We wish Surbiton and Canterbury well in the national finals in a couple of weeks time knowing that it was only Surbiton who beat us in normal game time.
Many thanks to all parents and grandparents for making the journey and very special thanks to Pete Wedderburn for umpiring all the way through the tournament.
Finally thanks to James and Seb who helped the team qualify in the Hampshire group stage but did not make the squad for the Regional Finals.
Thanks for a great season. What a way to end!