Third place for Ipswich under-18s at national event

Sophie Sunderland

Sophie Sunderland - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Hockey Club’s under-18 girls’ indoor hockey team came joint-third in the 2014 National Junior Indoor Championship.

In the group stage of this tournament the team recorded a 5-1 win against Wycombe HC, a 6-0 success against the 2013 and 2012 runners up, Wakefield HC, and 9-0 victory against Ashmoor HC.

But the match of the group, if not the tournament, was against Beeston HC, a team that won the National Junior under-16 title last year and have won this under-18 title twice in the last three years.

Ipswich started slowly and were three goals behind within six minutes.

A spirited fight back started with a short corner goal by Emma Fairhead, followed shortly afterwards by two fabulous goals from Lorna Bennell and Sophie Sunderland which gave Ipswich a 4-3 lead.

That advantage was held until 13 seconds before half-time when Beeston equalised.

In the second half, Ipswich fell behind 4-6 but fought back again following a formation change by coach Ian Driver.

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Two skilful goals from Abbey Hacker and a great finish by Hattie Sunderland made the score 7-6 to Ipswich with a couple of minutes to go.

In a tense last minute, Beeston managed a short corner goal one minute from the end and finally scored the winner with just nine seconds left on the clock.

Ipswich thus finished second in their group, qualifying for the semi-finals with a goal difference of plus-18 which was double that of any other team in the competition.

The semi-final pitted them against 2013 defending champions East Grinstead HC.

In a thrilling match, Ipswich took the lead with another short corner from Emma Fairhead and held this to just before half time when East Grinstead scored.

There were chances at both ends in the second half but East Grinstead scored a short corner with Ipswich down to four players. As Ipswich chased the game, East Grinstead broke away and won a penalty flick which they duly scored, leaving the final result 3-1.

Beeston ended up as National Junior champions winning 6-2 in the final.

All in the Ipswich squad played to an extremely high quality and all eight outfield players scored at least one goal during the tournament which spoke volumes for the squad.

Squad: Sophie Sexton (Captain), Gigi Aulsebrook, Kitty McWhirter, Emily Wheaton, Emma Fairhead, Abby Hacker, Lorna Bennell, Hattie & Sophie Sunderland.

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