The Clifton U16 hockey squad were placed 4th in the country at the National Hockey Finals, played over two days this week. The whole journey started in in early October with the Avon County tournament. Leading on to the Regional South West Finals; where the girls were placed second. They travelled to Cannock to play a knockout match earlier this term in order to reach the finals, which were hosted at the Olympic Park, Lee Valley National Hockey Centre.
The finals consisted of eight teams in two groups of four. The top teams in the group played for first and second spot. Whilst, the second placed teams played for third and fourth places. Unfortunately, Clifton were drawn in the same group as Repton College the hot favourites and eventual title winners. Clifton's defensive display was terrific and they really made life very difficult for Repton. In fact Clifton proved to be Repton’s toughest opponents in the tournament and to lose 2 -0 was not too disheartening for the squad. There was a hard fought draw with Ardingly 1 -1 in their next game; which meant that second place in the group was to be decided in the final group matches the next day. Clifton beat Joyce Frankland Academy 4 -2 in their final match and went to the 3rd and 4th place play off, by virtue of scoring one more goal than Ardingly.
The battle for 3rd place was against Leeds Grammar School. It was a terrific match, full of drama and controversy. The final result a 1 – 1 draw. The ‘dreaded’ penalty strokes were employed to decide a winner. The strokes went to sudden death and after seven or eight strokes each, Leeds finally scored the deciding goal. It could not have been closer.
The girls played over 10 hours of hockey to reach 4th place in the country, out of nearly 800 schools who entered. This was a courageous campaign and one which everyone associated with Clifton College should be very, very proud of. Great credit should go to Mr Gary Catchpole the team’s inspirational coach (although he now has slightly more grey hair!) and to Mrs Louise Catchpole who is in charge of hockey at Clifton the team manager.