Chelmsford U16s out in indoor semis

National Indoor Hockey ChampionshipsChelmsford's Under 16 girls produced some inspired hockey in their semi-final match at the National Indoor finals, but ultimately failed to stop Belper HC on their way to becoming crowned U16 Girls National Indoor Champions at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena on Sunday.

National Indoor Hockey Championships

Chelmsford's Under 16 girls produced some inspired hockey in their semi-final match at the National Indoor finals, but ultimately failed to stop Belper HC on their way to becoming crowned U16 Girls National Indoor Champions at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena on Sunday.

The three-day competition began with Chelmsford facing a daunting fixture against the South Regional champions and Pool A favourites, Kingston Grammar school, who were fielding three England U16 Internationals.

Chelmsford acquitted themselves well and created a number of chances before eventually conceding the match 1-3, with the well-rehearsed Kingston penalty corner routine finally getting the better of them.

Although disappointed to lose, the girls were pleased with their overall performance and soon put it behind them, registering their first points and ending the day, with an emphatic 5-1 win over Egglescliffe High school.

The first match of the second day was against Millfield school. Chelmsford scored quickly and soon dominated the play, forcing a series of corners and battering the Millfield goal with shots that were either cleared off the line or denied by the woodwork. Millfield rode their luck and mid-way through the second half, broke away to force a penalty corner which they converted to level the scores at 1-1. They then held out until the final whistle and left Chelmsford disappointed at having to share the points and rueing missed opportunities.

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It was soon apparent that they then needed to win their final pool match against Dame Alice Harpur School in order to qualify for a semi-final place as runners-up. They made no mistake this time and produced a great team performance to win 4-0 and book a semi-final spot against Belper Hockey Club, the winners of Pool B.

Belper were by then clear championship favourites, having won all their matches, scoring twenty-one goals and conceding only two in their first four pool matches. Chelmsford though had been improving with every game under the tactical guidance of their knowledgeable and experienced club coaches; ex England Indoor Hockey captain Lynn Bollington and current England and GB International, Lisa Wooding.

The semi-final was an extremely tense affair with both teams competing fiercely for the coveted place in the final the next day at Birmingham's NIA. Chelmsford were possibly guilty of showing Belper a little too much respect early on and allowed their opposition too much time on the ball. Belper were quick to capitalise and soon opened the scoring, firing an unstoppable drag flick high into the roof of the net following a penalty corner. With nothing to lose, Chelmsford threw everything at the Midlands side, tackling and chasing every ball.

Early in the second half the crowd erupted when Abi Krone fired in an equaliser. Belper responded with a fierce period of attacking play, forcing a series of penalty corners and finally going ahead with just minutes to go. Chelmsford battled on, contesting every ball, but eventually ran out of time.

Belper went on to Birmingham and became National Champions, beating Kingston Grammar school 5-2 in the final. Chelmsford were justly proud that they gave the eventual champions such a close match.

Squad: Chelsey Claridge, Kathryn Ecott, Jess Ecott, Sarah Williams, Abi Krone, Claudia Sidoli, Harriet Price, Kate Maxey, Helena Roberts, Sophie Nehammer.

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