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The School’s 1st XI hockey girls’ run in the national cup competition finally came to an end last week when they finished 3rd in the South region.
The cup run has seen St John’s beat a number of high-profile schools, including Eastbourne, St George’s and King Edward VI School, Southampton, not to mention the county cup victory over Cranleigh. The 2-1 win over King Edward’s in the regional quarter-final – thanks to two superb goals from the consistently outstanding Sophie Tait – took St John’s to the regional finals for the first time. Here they would meet Cranleigh once again, alongside Stowe and perennial rivals, Ardingly.
St John’s played some exceptional hockey and against Ardingly they maintained possession of the ball for most of the game. Just one misplaced pass allowed Ardingly’s star player to race into the circle to score. St John’s equalised with a fine flick from Maya Yien and looked to be in the ascendency only to see Ardingly regain the lead with a well-worked corner move. Losing 2-1 meant that St John’s would have to beat a Cranleigh team eager for revenge in order to qualify. For 20 minutes, St John’s totally dominated with Cranleigh barely having a touch. But three gilt-edged chances went astray and when Cranleigh capitalised on a mistake to take the lead, the game changed. St John’s now had to score two and, in their desperation, they lost some shape as Cranleigh showed their experience. Eventually Cranleigh’s striker found space to rifle the ball into the top of the net to end St John’s chances of progression.
A consolation 1-0 victory over Stowe in the final game said much for the girls’ resilience and team spirit but, in truth, they were devastated not to have made the next round. They had mixed it with the best and but for some very fine margins, they were certainly good enough to go through.
Coach and Head of Modern Foreign Languages at St John’s Guy Hicks commented: “In what is by far the most competitive region in the country, this was a quite fantastic effort from a group of girls who have blazed a trail for future St John’s hockey players both with their achievement and work ethic. The girls should rightly be proud of their success but it will take some time to overcome the disappointment of not quite reaching the national finals.”
He continued: “For a school that is only recently fully co-educational and for a hockey club still in its infancy to be playing at this level is remarkable. The squad have been a credit to themselves and the School: their teamwork, dedication and skill stand as an example to all and we hope that this is the first of many cup runs to come as those coming through the School look to emulate and even better such success.”
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