Over the weekend, Cranleigh School U16 girls became national indoor hockey champions with a win over a talented Repton team on penalty flicks after drawing in normal time – an almost exact repeat of last year’s final.
Their pool started with a difficult game against Millfield. Cranleigh took the lead after just four minutes with a tight shot from Boau-Lilly Shepherd. A penalty stroke was then excellently saved by their keeper.
Chances continued to come but with 30 seconds of the first half left Millfield got into the Cranleigh D for the first time and scored.
Midway through the second half they scored again, but two short corners from Mattie Hamilton in the space of a minute turned the game and Cranleigh ran out 3-2 winners.
Cranleigh’s second pool game was against rivals Repton. Repton scored a minute before half-time and 30 seconds before the end as Cranleigh pushed forward for the equaliser.
This was clearly a tough game and there were some great tackles from the likes of Immi Pilling and India Scott in particular.
Cranleigh had to win their final two pool games on Sunday to qualify for the semis.
The Perse made it difficult for Cranleigh, but Liv Martin opened the scoring early on and Mattie doubled the lead halfway through the second half.
Although they got one back, Cranleigh scored another short to complete a 3-1 win.
Many hours later, Cranleigh played Queens Chester. Once again Boau-Lilly scored early followed by two from Eliza Wheeler and one from Georgie Lawes, leaving them four up at half-time.
Cranleigh added another two goals in the second half and although Queens scored three, they finished with a comfortable 6-3 victory.
The girls faced rivals St Teresa’s, with their three England players, in the semis.
READ MORE Horsham boss says star defender's versatility proves he's an ‘intelligent’ player | Cranleigh begin new year with away defeat | Cranleigh School takes home ski championship trophies
Siena Keijsers scored two short corners in the first half to give Cranleigh a 2-0 half-time lead, and Siena completed her hat-trick between two successful short corners of St Teresa’s.
At 3-2 it was very tight. But, minutes before time, Boau-Lilly scored a deft deflection in front of the keeper to seal victory.
Cranleigh faced Repton in the final – a repeat of last year. Siena occupied their England player as she had done in the pool match, whilst Boau-Lilly and Georgie marked their German international.
Repton took the lead just before half-time with a well worked short corner but Cranleigh applied pressure in the second half and were rewarded with a short corner converted by Mattie.
Repton piled on lots of pressure resulting in many short corners but Cranleigh held out with Liv Martin running down one, Eliza clearing off the line, and tight at the death Repton hit the outside of the post.
So, to strokes; just like last year and Repton scored their first, although Liv Barker got an arm to it.
Mattie then stepped up and scored bottom right. Liv then saved their next, and Siena scored bottom left.
Their third stroke was fired just wide to give Cranleigh the trophy for the second year running.
Richard Organ said: “Just as we discussed at the start of Sunday, the critical advantage would be that our squad was stronger than anyone else’s and this would be the deciding factor with four games on the day and three of them very close together and so it proved to be.
“I’m very proud of the whole group who have become the first Cranleigh hockey team to retain their national title.”
Cranleigh School U16 girls indoor hockey squad: Ruby Bailey, Liv Barker, Millie Charnock, Mattie Hamilton, Siena Keijsers, Georgie Lawes, Liv Martin, Immi Pilling, Sasha Pilling, India Scott, Boau-Lilly Shepherd, Eliza Wheeler.