Marking another first for the club’s ever-growing junior section, Cambridge South debuted its Girls’ U10 7-a-side team at the In2 Hockey Club Championships on Sunday, the first team from the club to have featured in this competition.
The Cambridgeshire county round for the Girls’ U10s took place at the University Sports Ground on Wilberforce Road. Seven teams were entered but a late withdrawal from St Neots left six sides to contest for the county title and two places in the East of England regional round.
Having only fielded mixed boys’ and girls’ U10 teams playing quarter pitch games in the informal inter-club match days before, this was our first experience with a girls’ side playing on a half pitch with kitted goalkeepers under full ‘In2 Hockey’ (the junior version of the game) rules. Knowing we would be up against Cambridge City, long a fixture in the junior county competitions with an impressive track record and with no fewer than four teams entered, we went with no yardstick of expectation other than to go along, have fun, and enjoy the competition!
The team, along with the Boys’ U10 squad, had enjoyed a great training session the day before, taking advantage of the half term break to work on their formation and bond as a group. Our squad of nine were all present and ready in time for the first push-back at 10am. We were facing Cambridge City’s ‘Yellow’ team - how would it go? There were a few nerves among both coaches and parents! Fortunately though our players proved the calmest Southerners around and put on a marvellous performance to win 3-0 in their first fifteen minute fixture. Team coach, Kendra, had organised the side in a 2-3-1 formation and battling performances from everyone marked a great debut. Hooray, maybe we weren’t going to finish last!
After a game’s break, our next match was against City ‘Turquoise’. Could we do it again? We certainly could, and with some style - 6-1 this time, with goals being shared around the team! Elizabeth, Isobel and Sylvie were tackling and chasing at the back, Elodie had donned the keeping kit (with enthusiastic support from goalkeeping coach and auntie, Cassie) and was doing a great job at kicking away anything that came into her D, Imogen was our dynamo in the centre, Izzy and Megan were running up and down the wings to attack and defend, while Holly and Isla buzzed around at the top looking to get into the D and score goals.
Following another break we had two matches back to back. The first was against Newmarket - finishing ahead of them had been our target at the beginning of the day. The team continued its hot streak, great persistence and composed play giving us five goals and another clean sheet! This was immediately followed by our toughest game yet - City ‘Black’. We had already surpassed anything we had expected from the day and were now competing with our opponents for a place in the top two medal positions (no bronze awards here). The game hung in the balance as we battled hard against a very good and well-coached side but again, it was the South girls who found the edge and took a 2-0 win. Four wins out of four! The coaches on the sidelines, Kendra, Cassie and Neil, were as excited as the players.
Our final game of the competition was against City’s strongest team, City ‘Red’, also with a 100% record. It was as difficult as we expected as our opponents played some lovely, fluent hockey, showing the benefits of all their training and coaching. We went two goals down but the girls’ heads didn’t drop and we then scored ourselves to briefly put the result in doubt! City held their nerve though and two more goals secured the county title for them. But we had finished competition runners up, meaning we came away with medals and a place to represent Cambridgeshire, along with City ‘Red’, in the East of England round at Harleston Magpies in Norfolk on 25 April!
Well done to the players for a great performance, to Kendra and Cassie for selflessly giving up their Sunday mornings even though their own children weren’t playing, and to all the parents for coming along to brave the blustery conditions and support! On the 8 March, it will be the turn of our also newly-formed Boys’ U10 side to make their debut in the boys’ competition. We wish them all the best and hope they can take some inspiration and encouragement from the success of the girls!