Hucclecote U.14’s pulled out all the stops at the National Challenge Finals in Norwich at the weekend where they took the title during a nail-biting final match at the end of the day against Weston Park.
With a squad of 9, Hucclecote’s first fixture against Pheonix Westoning was not their best, and nerves certainly played a part allowing the opposition to stay in contention all the way. Although Hucclecote had a slight edge at half time, the final result saw a draw at 11 goals each.
Disappointed but undeterred, Hucclecotes young talent fought on with strong performances from Meghan Suddaby and Flo Edwards, and their meeting with Wakefield saw them take their first victory 12-9.
With a squad of 9, each and every player played their part, supporting one another superbly and often the changes enabled them to exploit their oppositions tactics. Their biggest victories came against Grangetown (23-4) and Deeping from the East Midlands (16-5) and with the squad lifting their performance to new levels as each game passed by hopes were high. Lydia Hallbrooks shooting consistency was a winning factor, as were gutsy displays from Rosie Johnson (WA), Lydia Jones (WD) and Fliss Phillips (GK).
With one game to go against the unbeaten Weston Park, Hucclecote knew they would have to put out a dominant and talented performance in order to take one of the 3 UK National Challenge Titles and they did exactly that.
This game saw the youngsters peak to new heights, and with Meghan Suddaby again on top form working tirelessly in defence and with Captain Milly Price (WD) and Fliss Phillips (GK) behind her, this trio pressured the Weston Park side into making many errors which Hucclecote were able to capitalise on. A half time score of 9-5 in Hucclecote’s favour saw a sigh of relief, and credit must be given to Goal Shooter Lydia Hallbrook who scored 80% (8/10) during this period whilst under tense pressure.
Weston Park came out fighting hard in the final half and Hucclecote had to work hard to maintain momentum. Tiredness began to show with Hucclecote’s error rate increasing bringing the ball through court, but with their Captain willing them on, and Lauren Brooks turning and stealing the ball, Hucclecote steadied things down. Holly Walker playing in a new position at WA had a very strong game, and she linked well with both shooters were on song with Flo Edwards converting 75% and Hallbrook 100%.
With two minutes to go the crowd were on their feet, and willing the young Hucclecote side to hold on to their lead. This they did taking victory by 16 goals to 11 and giving them the National Challenge Final Title. This display was the best the girls have ever produced, and if this is anything to go by, the future for this group of talented players look very bright.
Arnie Brown Coach , and Gilly Salter & Sue Wainwright (Coach Mentors) could not praise the girls enough. This is a fantastic result for Hucclecote youngsters at this age group and a very proud moment for all involved and the many fantastic parents who supported the girls on their journey to the finals.
Squad: Lydia Hallbrook, Flo Edwards, Milly Price (Capt), Rosie Johnson, Holly Walker, Lauren Brooks, Lydia Jones, Meghan Suddaby and Fliss Phillips.
Coach: Arnie Brown