Perse Compete With The Best Around
On the first weekend of the Lent term, the U16 Boys Hockey team travelled to Whitgift School in Croydon for the EHB National Schools Indoor Finals. Up against the strongest teams from across the country the Perse team acquitted themselves admirably, following on from the series of excellent performances which had got them to this stage.
Pre-tournament preparations had seen the squad fine-tuning their skills and there was a real eagerness to take to the pitch and play. In the first game on Friday, Perse faced Repton School, one of the traditional big names in school hockey. As Perse settled on the ball, there were chances that came and went but no goal to show for it. With Repton’s keeper snuffing out the best chances to score, Perse were undone by a well-executed penalty corner and a shot that snuck in from a very tight angle, leaving Owen Good no chance in goal. As the team came off the pitch reflections were on a missed opportunity to take at least a point against the ultimate pool winners who would go on finish the tournament as runners-up.
The lack of attacking threat was made up for against Egglescliffe in the second game, with Perse inflicting a resounding 6-1 defeat on their opponents. Captain Adam Crockett scored three goals, with a further two from Leo Bridger and one for Dilip Goyal as Perse were able to play some scintillating, expansive and attacking hockey.
This opportunity was not afforded them by a well-organised Dr Challoner’s side. At half-time Perse were a goal down from a penalty corner, but started the second half brightly to lead 2-1 with goals from Dilip Goyal and Mark Bishop. However, the tide turned again as penalty corners were awarded against the Perse side, and with the last touch of the game a winner flew past the despairing defence to inflict a 3-2 defeat that was hard for the team to stomach.
This eliminated any hope of progression to the semi-finals, but the following morning there was pride at stake as the team looked to sign off in style and put on a show for the travelling parental support. In this final match Exeter School were the opposition and the teams contested a hard fought game, with strong defensive displays at both ends. 0-0 draws are not all that common in indoor hockey but this was one where there was no doubting the level of entertainment and commitment from both sides. The result was a rewarding one in light of the day’s further events as Exeter progressed to win the tournament, adding a sense of satisfaction that The Perse had held their own against the best in the country.
With four Year 10 players in the squad, there is a buzz of anticipation for next season already as they look to challenge again at U16 level whilst the majority of the squad graduate to the senior U18 level. The desire to keep competing at the top level is driving these players on and inspiring others to join them in representing the Perse, with a real enthusiasm for the indoor version of the game.