Heading to Nationals!

9 February 2023

Last Friday, our under 11 colts travelled to Haileybury for the IAPS Hockey Regionals. The squad had worked hard since September towards this day and some boys had been unfortunate to miss out on final selection.

Our opening match was against Chigwell. It was a nervy and tight encounter, and they scored a last minute goal to win one-nil, dashing our early hopes. However, the boys had played well and there was a feeling of frustration rather than disappointment. Like a non-league football team enjoying an unexpected FA Cup run, we then beat Bishop’s Stortford and Aldwickbury (both 1-0, brilliant defensive work from Finlay F and Benji H) before a 2-2 draw with Bedford Prep meant we qualified from the group and into the Cup quarter finals. It was now knock-out hockey and anything could happen. The boys believed….

With goals from Charlie C and George J, KCS Cambridge were beaten 2-1. It was fair to say that with each match we had been getting better and better. By now the boys were playing some lovely hockey, moving the ball around the pitch with verve and controlling it in the right areas of the pitch.

We knew we were within touching distance of qualifying for nationals as from the two semi’s, 3 of the 4 teams would be heading to Repton. The boys knew that this was the biggest game of the day. We did not want the pressure of the 3rd v 4th play off. In a nail biting encounter we duly beat St Faith’s 1-0. A George J goal and some fine Andrey V saves in goal making the difference. We were going to nationals!

The final was against Bedford who we knew we could match. However, a 4-1 defeat meant there was no cherry on the cake. In retrospect, our boys were tired and our squad small. After the worst possible start, a goal down after a minute, we accepted the inevitable defeat with sportsmanship and good grace. Leo O got our consolation goal, and I must at this point acknowledge the superb contribution of Y5 pupil Hunter O, throughout the whole tournament.

Whilst there was no cherry, we still had the cake and there was much to be happy about. To be 2nd out of 20 South East prep schools was quite an achievement. On the day, the boys were GREAT. It’s astonishing what Beacon lads can do when they buy into something and believe that they are truly capable.

Reported by Mike Williams

The Beacon Squad – Andrey V, Finlay F, Xander B, Leo O, Charlie C, Hunter O, Rory C, Benji H, George J.

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