Sussex hockey champions Hurstpierpoint eye national glory

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Hurstpierpoint College are through to the regional stage of the Under-18s Girls’ National Schools Hockey Competition after being crowned Sussex Champions.

Hosting the event, Hurst collected the winners’ shield for the first time in over 15 years when a nail biting finale against Eastbourne College went to sudden death penalty flicks.

Ten sides from across Sussex began the day with their sights set firmly on a top three finish to secure a passage to the regionals.

In section A of the draw, Hurst began with a 2-0 win over Burgess Hill with both goals coming from sixth former Lauren Hope

Next up the girls faced Collyer’s College, and in a game of few chances Hurst’s Amelia Frett netted the only goal from a short corner to make it two from two.

In flood-lit conditions with sporadic downpours the hosts drew 0-0 with Mayfield in match three, before facing Christ’s Hospital where two early goals from Courtney Hansford and Theresa Billowitzki set things up before Hurst scored a third through Lauren Hope.

The semi-finals pitted Hurst against St Bede’s, where Hope’s fourth goal of the tournament had the hosts up at the break. With all the players suffering from a long day of matches, the home crowd played their part in the second half as Amelia Frett’s goal gave some breathing space before St Bede’s scored a late consolation.

So in a fiercely fought final against Eastbourne, the match was played with zip and grit as both sides came close to scoring, Hurst having a shot cleared off the line as it ended goalless at full time.

It meant a nervy series of penalty strokes would decide the day’s winner, and twice Hurst were on the brink of sudden death defeat but were saved by the heroic saves of keeper Holly Sargent, and when Hurst held their nerve to score again before Eastbourne’s last decisive miss.

After lifting the shield Hurst’s First Team coach, Chris Wilson, said: “They are a fantastic group of girls and the best 1st XI we have ever had.

“They performed extremely well in tough conditions and we are looking forward to the regional rounds where we can test ourselves against some of the best.”

Eastbourne College and Mayfield also progressed to the next stage of the competition, and all three teams will be looking to bring the national trophy to Sussex in 2013.