U16 Hockey Team progress to Regional Finals
Stamford School’s Under 16B Hockey team will progress to the regional finals of the Tier 3 Boys East Hockey Tournament, held in early March, following their success at the regional preliminary round.
The team, formed of 13 students from Year 11, improved their performance through each of their games, winning three out of the four matches.
The team captain, Joe Evans, reports on the round:
Match 1: Haileybury vs Stamford:
We arrived at the pitches at about 10:10 for a 10:30 start giving us 20 minutes to warm up. We took a while to start warming up and didn’t make the most of it in my opinion as I feel we all, as a team still felt a bit sluggish after the hour bus journey. We were playing Haileybury first up. They had pushback and started off very well making the most of our mistakes and scoring an early goal. I think our heads dropped early on which allowed them to score two more goals, which really disheartened the team. Their third goal was strong drag flick wide of the left post from a short corner and was deflected into the goal off of the defender’s facemask. After the umpires took some time deciding whether the goal should count, they awarded the goal controversially to Haileybury. We got much better in the second half with the midfield creating through balls connecting to our forward who couldn’t quite capitalise on the one on ones. Haileybury finished the second half with a sharp counterattack that left them through on goal, taking it past the keeper and into the back of the net. The game finished 4-0 to Haileybury.
Match 2: Stamford vs Gresham’s:
With the weather deteriorating, the match versus Gresham’s proceeded. Stamford had pushback as the hail started and the wind increased. We started well after the defeat to Haileybury with plenty of useful attacks. The defenders stopped a Gresham’s attack midway into the first half and countered strong. The ball found its way into the midfield who distributed it to Joe Evans who picked up the assist from a well struck reverse into the bottom corner from Connor Packer. Gresham’s carried on attacking, with the defence doing well to stop them. The midfield kept supplying the balls to the forwards which ultimately led to them earning a short corner late on in the second half. The injection fell to Archie Davies who got the assist after a well passed ball to the left of the ‘D’ that was finished by Connor Packer into the bottom corner yet again. These two goals didn’t stop a determined Gresham’s who kept on testing the defence into the second half. Gresham’s had a well worked counterattack that left their forward through on goal. A last-ditch attempt to tackle this player was made by a retreating defender who made connection with the players stick more than the ball which led to a Gresham’s penalty flick. The keeper guessed the right way but couldn’t stop the well-placed flick into the side netting of the goal. The match finished 2-1 to Stamford.
Match 3: Stamford vs Southend:
After hearing news of the Southend victory against Haileybury, the Stamford boys were expecting a defeat. Southend started off very strong with many skilful players getting the better of our defence. Southend made an early break and somehow managed to get a goal from a trickling ball that was just out of the reach of the Goalkeeper into the bottom right corner. Stamford kept at it, not letting their heads drop and making equally as many attacks as Southend. Stamford had a late break into the first half from a powerful hit from the defence all the way to our forward in the defensive 25. A turn onto Joe Evans’ weaker side led to a threaded reverse which fell to Connor Packer at the top of the ‘D’ who slotted it home with yet another reverse hit into the back of the goal. The attacks were relentless from both sides into the second half with Stamford using width well and utilising the powerful hit of Sam Cannings’ from defence up to the forward in the middle. Stamford’s attacks were breaking down as Southend were capitalising and winning short corners. They won two in quick succession which led to two extraordinary diving stick saves from the Stamford keeper, Ewan Criddle, to keep them in it. As the clock ran down Stamford had their last attack of the match. The ball was picked up from the centre and played out wide to a forward who put the ball through to a running Archie Davies who proceeded to square the ball across the face of the goal for Connor Packer to tap it in.
Stamford were celebrating as Southend were looking for a quick restart. They did that and won a short corner in the last play of the game. Nerves were high as the Stamford forwards and defence waited for the injection to be played. Southend played a new routine which eliminated the Stamford defenders. A drag flick was fired wide of the goal ending the game. Southend were a lot more physical and skilful than the Stamford team, but Stamford played a good game of hockey which deservedly gifted them 2-1 win.
Match 4: Saffron Walden vs Stamford:
Stamford went into the last game against Saffron Walden knowing that a win would progress them through to the Regional Final. Stamford started aggressively with a high amount of interceptions from the Saffron attempted transfers. The first half was mainly dominated by Stamford with attacks that ultimately ended with no success. The second half started with a Stamford short corner. The injection was played out to Archie Davies who fired in a good drag flick which was saved by the keeper. He could only deflect it so far as it landed at the feet of Joe Evans at the back post who scored the goal. Both teams attacked and defended well with Stamford dominating the second half as well. The match finished 1-0 to Stamford progressing them through to the Regional final in London on the 5th of March.
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