By: Samuel Rowe
Framlingham College’s U14 Girls have qualified for the Investec National Schools Hockey Finals to be held at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in February 2020 after being crowned East Champions on Tuesday 19th November at Redbridge Sports Centre.
After progressing to this stage having won all of their games at the East Qualifiers earlier on in the month, they were well aware that the standard of competition would be high. It wasn’t the best of preparations for the girls as just minutes before the start of their first match against The Weald a 40 minute delay was placed on them due to the weather. It later materialised that this match would be postponed until 4.40pm due to the conditions of the pitch.
So, after a lengthy wait and an amended schedule, Framlingham faced familiar opponents, The Perse in their first game of the day. After a nervy opening few minutes, it was evident that The Perse were in their second game (which took place on the other pitch) and took the lead. However, just before half time, Framlingham managed to equalise through some effective rebounding. The girls kicked on after half time, converting a penalty corner to take a 2-1 lead. But, as an apparent reminder to the girls, at this level you must play for the full duration – and The Perse snatched a last minute equaliser to see the game finish at 2-2.
Next, Framlingham faced Sevenoaks – who had 4 points from 6 going into the game. Knowing that there was a lot riding on this game the girls battled from the first whistle, both teams displayed some resilient play, which saw the half time score at 0-0. Framlingham kept knocking throughout the second half, and a sweeping counter attack move saw the girls take a 1-0 lead. Learning their lesson from the earlier game, Framlingham effectively managed the game and secured all three points. This left them too 4 points from 6.
The state of play meant that a win versus The Weald would see Framlingham crowned Champions, a draw resulting in 2nd place and National playoff; a defeat would result in a 3rd place finish with no future competition, the stakes were high – but within their hands. The Framlingham Girls began a little nervous to say the least. The girls had the worst start of the day in this final game, going 0-1 and 1-2 down. They didn’t allow this to phase them remaining composed and with their eyes on the prize they managed to carry a 3-2 lead into the half time break with two field goals and a converted penalty stroke. With just 15 minutes between them and a place at the National Finals the girls stuck to the process and converted a penalty corner goal with minutes to play, they secured their ticket to the finals.
On what was a great advert for school Girl hockey, Framlingham finished top of the pool, along with the title of East Champions 2019 and progress directly to the National Finals in February of next year.