U14 Girls National Champions

The U14 girls hockey side has made Wellington College history by becoming national champions for the first time.

It has been an unforgettable year for this group of highly talented, incredibly hard-working, and utterly delightful girls. The Michaelmas Term saw them go unbeaten in every fixture they played, as well as picking up the national ISHL 6-a-side title, but the real focus of recent weeks has been preparing for the 11-a-side National Finals which took place on Tuesday 8th March at the Olympic Park. Hopes were high but, having never qualified for the finals before, the girls also knew that they would be facing the best hockey sides from around the UK.

In Pool A, the girls came up against Canford, Sevenoaks and Cheadle Hulme. 3-0 wins against Canford and Sevenoaks led to a winner-takes-all showdown with Cheadle Hulme who had also won their two previous games – only the winners could progress to the final. There was nothing to worry about, however, as goals from Millie Griffiths, Kitty Baccanello and Darcy Bourne ensured a third 3-0 victory in a row and safe progress through the biggest game of the girls’ lives.

In the Pool B, reigning champions St George’s Weybridge had made a strong start with a 2-0 victory against Repton and a 4-1 win over Dean Close. Despite losing their final game 1-0 to Kent College, St George’s progressed to the final on goal difference, setting up a replay of the South final which Wellington had previously won 2-0.

There was no complacency amongst the girls, however, as there was very little between the two sides and the final appeared to be heading towards penalty flicks as an understandably cagey match moved into the final minute with the score 0-0. However, the script writers had one final surprise up their sleeve as Wellington won a penalty corner…one final chance to score. As the ball was played to and fro across the D, captain Emily Leeson stepped up, took aim and slotted it home to secure a 1-0 victory with literally seconds to spare. For the first time in the College’s history as a fully co-educational school, the national title was secured by Wellington.

Credit must go to St George’s Weybridge who are a fine side and who played an equal part in such a captivating and tense final. That said, no-one could deny that the Wellington girls had been the stand-out team on the day and fully deserved their success.

Master, Julian Thomas, who had supported the team for the entire day, said, “I am absolutely thrilled for this amazing group of history-making girls. Despite being hugely talented, their work ethic is second-to-none and the humility and desire to improve which they have shown throughout the season is a lesson to us all. They are, quite simply, the embodiment of what it means to be a Wellingtonian and it was truly wonderful to see so many people from across the Wellington Community turning out to support the girls at the Olympic Park and on social media. I must also congratulate the brilliant coaching team of Gareth Carr and Adele Brown who have done so much to unlock the potential of this wonderful side. But the true stars of the show are the girls themselves: they fully deserve this outstanding accolade and everyone at the College is immensely proud of them.”

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