An incredibly excited U11 boys’ team headed across to Hurst for the IAPS Regional Qualifiers, looking forward to a challenging day of hockey. After a slow start to the season with frozen pitches resulting in cancelled matches and training, there were a few nerves about how the team would perform.
These nerves were quickly settled with a goal after just 20 seconds in the first game against Highfield, through a smart finish from Humphrey. Further goals from Ralph (2) and Dexter sealed a comfortable 4-0 win.
This score line and strong performance was repeated against the home team, Hurst, with Ralph and Dexter again on the score sheet, and Jasper and Henry also getting in on the act for another 4-0 victory.
A 0-0 draw with a strong Sutton Valance team in the last group game meant that Cranleigh Prep topped their pool and went confidently into the Quarter Finals.
A solid 2-0 win over Edgeborough was secured with a fine reverse stick strike from Ralph, as well as a tap in from Dexter who followed up after Ralph’s initial effort was saved.
The semi-final loss to Kent College Junior was disappointing after the boys dominated the first half without scoring. They were left to rue these missed opportunities as two late goals on the counter by an organised and determined opponent resulted in a 0-2 loss.
The team had to quickly get over this disappointment as they knew that a win in their final match, the 3rd/4th playoff, would give them a chance to go to the National Finals. This was achieved in a rematch with a much improved Hurst team through a solitary goal from Jasper in a tight 1-0 win. Sebastian in goal had to make two key saves and he was supported by Tadhg and Gabriel in defence to keep the clean sheet and take the bronze medals home.
Mark Pearn, team coach, says “The team performed consistently well across the whole day and can be proud of their achievement in reaching the National Finals at the end of March”.