Beeston Boys and Surbiton Girls claim U16 Titles

Girls playing in the U16 Finals 2014

Beeston U16 Boys defeated defending champions Canterbury to win the Championships for the first time in three years, while Surbiton Girls defeated Wakefield to end the host's incredible six year winning streak.

In Pool A of the Boys competition, Beeston started the weekend in style with a comfortable 5-0 victory over Deeside Ramblers, which was followed by a 3-1 victory over Woking. Surbiton also had a 100% record on the first day with narrow victories over Deeside and Woking. Sunday's match between Beeston and Surbiton therefore became an all-or-nothing tie with the winners qualifying for the final. In a tense affair which saw six cards awarded in the game, Beeston came out winners thanks to an Elliott Hibell brace. Woking finished their weekend in style with a 6-0 win over Deeside, Eddie Way scoring a hat trick.

Boys Pool B started in spectacular fashion with arguably the best game of the weekend between Havant and Canterbury. Canterbury had cancelled out Havant’s two goal advantage within six minutes of the second half, but Havant scored a vital goal two minutes from time to take a 3-2 lead. However, Canterbury showed why they were defending champions to score twice in the final minute to win 4-3. The other opening game saw Cambridge City in fine scoring form as they defeated Neston SW 12-1. Euan Gilmour scored seven of the 12, and would go on to score a further seven to finish with an impressive 14 goals for the weekend. The key game in the pool came between Canterbury and Cambridge City, which the defending champions won 2-0. That meant Canterbury only had to defeat Neston SW in their final game to meet Beeston in the final, which they did 7-0. They were made to work hard for the goals however, as they came across an inspired Dan Minshall in the Neston SW goal who pulled off a string of fine saves.

The Final of the Boys competition was an excellent advert for junior hockey, as two clubs with excellent junior development programmes going head-to-head. In a close first half, Beeston twice cancelled out a Canterbury lead as the teams went into half time at 2-2. 15 minutes into the second half, Canterbury’s Will Heywood scored his second of the game to level the match after an early second-half Beeston goal, which put the game in the balance with 10 minutes remaining. However, Beeston took the lead shortly after and as Canterbury pressed for an equaliser, Beeston broke to score a fifth, which demonstrated the quality of hockey on show as Sam Apoola neatly slotted home after a fast paced attack. In the play-off for third place, Cambridge City once again found their scoring form to secure a 7-3 victory over Surbiton.

In Girls Pool C, hosts Wakefield maintained their high standards shown in recent years to secure 2-0 victories over Southgate and newcomers Buckingham in their opening two matches. Reading also got off to a good start on the opening day, which saw them draw 1-1 with Southgate before defeating Southgate 3-0. This set up a tense final pool match between Wakefield and Reading, which the latter had to win to qualify for the final. However, they were unable to find a goal as they came up against a resilient Jess Walsh in the Wakefield goal as the match finished 0-0. In the other final pool match Kirsty Freshwater scored Buckingham's first ever goal at a national U16 final, but this wasn’t enough as they went down 3-1 to Southgate.

Surbiton dominated Girls Pool D, with three wins from three in their matches. Saturday saw a narrow 3-2 victory over Bowdon, and a 4-0 victory against Wycombe. With Beeston winning and losing a game on Saturday, Surbiton knew that a draw would be enough to make the final. However, they showed their class in their final pool match to defeat Beeston 2-0. The remaining three teams all won and lost a game against each other to finish on three points. So when Wycombe won their first game of the tournament against Bowdon, it meant second place was determined on goal difference, with Bowdon sneaking through thanks mainly to their 3-0 victory against Beeston on Saturday.

There was a great atmosphere in the Girls U16 Final, with excellent home support for Wakefield and visitors Surbiton. It was a tight affair in the opening stages, with neither side wanting to give much away. However, Surbiton delivered a blow to the defending champions with a goal right at the end of the first half. Wakefield gave it everything they had in the second half looking for an equaliser but were unable to convert. As they pushed forward, Surbiton scored again five minutes from time through Orla Cooke’s second of the match, which Wakefield were unable to respond to. In the play-off for third place, Bowdon’s Alice McAuiffe-Hall scored the only goal of the game as they took third place ahead of Reading.