For the second consecutive year Burgess Hill Hockey Club Under 16s team won through to the final of the Home Counties Girls’ league.
Out of 56 clubs across nine counties in the South East, Burgess Hill Girls were runners up.
In the semi-final they played Surbiton who have 1200 juniors (Burgess Hill has 100 approximately).
This was a strong Surbiton team and Hill had to work hard. Ciara Branagan drove up the left side and went close and 2 minutes later scored a great individual goal when she beat 4 players and her shot from the top of the D gave the keeper no time to get low enough to stop the ball. Hill then fought hard to maintain the advantage and Surbiton pressed forcing a great save from Geraighty after the whistle for the end of the first half. Hill maintained the advantage in the 2nd half and Jenny Chee (aged 13) picked up a great through ball from her sister, beat the keeper and narrowly missed the post with a great shot under pressure. Rebecca Chee then hit the post when she picked up a great pass from Little on the right.
The team then held on until the final whistle.
In the final they played Southgate (coached by John Shaw from the 1986 Olympic Team)
Southgate were physically stronger than Hill and put 2 early goals past the stunned team before Hill regrouped. It was Ciara Branagan again who made a run up the left wing and delivered the ball to Perry in the D who had the space and time to slot the ball past the keeper. Hill allowed Southgate no recovery time and the equaliser came almost immediately after with Rebecca Chee converting the cross this time.
With the score at 2-2 at half time it was nail biting and Geraighty was forced to make 2 outstanding saves from short corners before Southgate eventually managed to score a winner. Childs controlled the centre midfield throughout and Emily O’Shea was the outstanding defender in the last 10 minutes of the game – calmly clearing the ball under pressure.
Thanks particularly to the management /coaching team of Sam Crichton, Wendy Caddye and Dawn Prideaux de Lacy; the Nizam in Haywards Heath for sponsoring the shirts; Derrick Branagan, Wendy Caddye, Rich Ward and John Murphy for umpiring and the support of all the parents at matches.
The team: Liz Geraighty (GK), Ciara Branagan (Captain), Emily O’Shea, Bella Little, Sophie Huyton-Taylor, Orla Badger, Olivia Muston, Derval Branagan, Izzie Childs, Rebecca Chee, Jenny Chee, Rebecca Long, Sarah Elder, Lucy Perry, Natasha Purchas
Other contributing squad members: Maddie Ridings, Kennedy Ridings (GK), Grace Vans Agnew, Natalie Watt