The Under 11 Girls rose early and headed to kings Bruton today for the under 11 West Regional IAPS competition. The group stages saw the girls get off to a shaky start with a 1-0 loss against Hazelgrove. They fought back hard and beat their next opponents 1-0 in one game and drew 2-2 to come 2nd in their pool. The girls then had to face the 1st placed team in a different pool in the quarter finals of the cup and beat them 1-0. The standard was tough but the girls were improving. With 4 teams left, the girls were confident that they could qualify as one of the 3 teams to get through to the National Finals. They faced a familiar Beaudesert team and it was end to end play for the full 16 minutes. Chances were had and lost by both teams but Beaudesert pinched a goal to win 1-0. The girls re-grouped and it was make or break now. Win the 3rd/4th play off game and qualify to Nationals or lose and come home just short of victory. We were up against our very first opponents of the day, whom we’d lost to, Hazelgrove. In the first half, both teams came out hard and fast and eager to score. St Johns were put under pressure as Lily Salter went down with a stick to the face and had to be treated on the sideline. Anxiety and butterflies were racing round in tummies but the girls had to stick to the game plan. Isabel Eaves stepped up to the plate and defended well in particularly tense times. With minutes to go Ffion Hillman was taken injured as well but the team battled on. At this age it’s a tough decision to play on or help your friend! The girls persevered, gritted their teeth and worked hard for one another. A 0-0 final score saw the girls facing penalty shuffles. For those of you who watched the GB women play in the final in Rio you’re familiar with how nerve wracking this situation is to be in for the athletes let alone for an under 11 hockey player! 3 girls volunteered to take on the challenge, this takes bravery and confidence and no matter the outcome here, I knew we had given it our all. With both teams first attempts saved, it was still 0-0. Ffion stepped forward and snuck the ball in to the back of the goal with composure; it was all eyes on our GK Grace Curtis. With one save under her belt, Grace closed down the player, took the first shot and then kicked away the second phase shot with sheer determination! We were in the lead. With no nails left, racing hearts and a crowd of other teams watching the final moments of the game, Lily Salter spectacularly sealed the deal and scored in the left hand corner of the goal. The win sees the girls finish 3rd in the cup out of 16 teams and go through to the U11 IAPS National Finals . A truly special day had by all!