An invitation to enter the U18 School Challenge Cup for the top eight lacrosse teams in the country was too good an opportunity to turn down - and it was certainly worth it. The chance to play two top schools, who aren't on our circuit, provided the perfect test to check our progress this term.
The eight schools were invited based on their finishing places at last year’s National Schools to this knockout competition, held at Aldershot Garrison Sports Centre on Saturday, 23rd November.
We were drawn against top seeds and National Champions Berkhamsted in our opening quarter-final match and got off to a very promising start. It remained very tight throughout the first half with our equaliser scored on the hooter for half time disallowed. We remained organised and disciplined in defence, with Phine putting in some outstanding saves to keep us in the game. Fluent and rapid through the midfield, we transitioned the ball well and scored some superb team goals from quick ball movement in our attack, but with eight minutes to go we trailed by three. Digging deep, we got within one goal for a few minutes. However, as we pushed hard for the equaliser, looking to feed our key players, we lost our structure in attack, losing possession and Berkhamsted then grabbed one more, to make the final score 10-8 to Berkhamsted. The fact that we were bitterly disappointed to lose speaks volumes. It was down to such fine margins and we can take huge positives from our performance.
Our playoff match was against Moreton Hall (as they lost to Guildford High 3-6). Unfortunately we didn't start as well and took the first half to work out how to cope with the skilfully agile young Moreton players, affording them too much space in attack as we struggled to find our rhythm. Despite a sub-par first half we were only 3-5 down at the half and we quickly recognised what we needed to do. We started to play better and build momentum, retaining possession and converting some well-worked goals but were still 7-8 down with two minutes to go. With fire in our belly, we began winning more 50/50 balls, scoring the equaliser with 90 seconds to go. With stopped clock it was the longest two minutes ever; we continued to dig deep, retain possession and had a shot for the win. Saved. The next 45 seconds had to be seen to be believed! With their GK well out of goal we doubled the ball and won possession, rushed to make a quick pass but their GK read it, blocked it and passed quickly to her team who ran down to score. The final score was 8-9 against Moreton Hall.
Overall we made great strides forward as a team and can take huge confidence in our individual and collective performances. Well played to all of the girls.