Every senior girl was in a match this Saturday, as the 2021-2022 Hockey season got off to a bang.
On Saturday the Belhaven Hill 2021-22 sporting year got off to a bang with the 1sts, 2nds and 3rds Girls playing Strathallan Prep, at Hallhill - this meant that every senior girl was in a match.
After 18 years of coaching the BelhavenU11 boys’ rugby during the Autumn Term, it was quite a wrench to move across to the senior girls’ hockey but in just a few training sessions, I’ve been impressed by this group of girls’ enthusiasm and sense of fun. And today they added a large dash of determination to that.
Girls’ 2nd Team
Strathallan won the toss and chose the hit-off. They started strongly but were eventually dispossessed allowing us to attack and from then on it was a bit of a ding-dong battle.
I felt that we had the better of the first half with Mary controlling the midfield, making some great drives, strong tackles and distributing the ball well, Alice making some lovely, wending runs and debutante, Alma showing real drive and determination.
With Izzy drifting forwards and holding her position out wide very well, she did a fab job of supporting Willow who made numerous brilliant leads, finding space again and again. Indeed, we repeatedly found ourselves in the opposition circle but time and again struck the ball straight at their ‘keeper (we must have had 15 shots at goal in the half).
We didn’t have it all our own way, however and Ishbel, Emelia and Lilly did a great job at the back, communicating with each other, moving to meet any attack and clearing well. They were well supported by Louisa who had a cracking first game in goal.
It wasn’t until the 18th minute when Willow eventually managed to sneak one past the goalie for our first goal of the season.
The second half got off to a great start when Alma was rewarded for her hard work and scored her first ever goal in Belhaven Blue (I’m sure it won’t be her last) but then we seemed to lose focus for a while. A couple of the midfielders were caught too high up the field and a couple of our defenders were guilty of watching the ball rather than going to it with the result that Strath managed to claw back to goals and level the score.
Another goal by Willow was matched by Strath to make it 3 - 3 and then, as the tension mounted, and with just a minute left to play, Willow made it a hat-trick and put ahead which is how it stayed for the final play of the match.
So, a very exciting match with numerous positives. A very encouraging start to the year indeed. Well done, girls.
Belhaven Hill 2nds 4 - 3 Strathallan Prep 2nds
Girls’ 3rd Team
This was a very inexperienced 3rds team with five girls from abroad with very limited or no hockey under their belts and, to add to that, they were playing a mixed Strath team that included a couple of 2nd team girls and even one 1st team player. This would be a good test of their character - they were certainly going to have to dig deep!
Strath started with the ball and immediately made some confident surges deep into our half. Fortunately each of these was broken down by some gritty tackling but they kept on coming with one or two of their girls showing their experience and controlling the game.I worried slightly at this point that we would be overrun, especially when they scored a goal.
But then a little bit of magic happened.
I don’t know if it was the loud support from the rest of the girls from the sideline, my muttered encouragement, Mrs. Holiday’s entreaties from the opposite side or just a grim determination to fight back. Whatever it was, it worked!
Ottie, Lottie and Elita at the back morphed into a bit of a brick wall, refusing to let anyone by and clearing their lines brilliantly. Olivia was calm and determined in the middle while Victoire and Charlotte started making some fantastic runs with the ball before feeding it forward. Carmen grew in confidence with each moment, seeming to take offence each time someone from the opposition deigned to try and tackle her.
Victoria and Paloma, though lacking in any finesse or stickwork (it’ll come) ran around like mad things, pouncing on any ball (or person) who came anywhere near them. Victoria may be Spanish but she looked like a Scottish warrior wielding a claymore as she charged around the pitch.
The first half ended with Strath just one goal up but then, to the delight of the home crowd, Victoire managed to slap on across the goal-line to level the scores and that was how it stayed until just 3 minutes from the final whistle. Then, alas! Strath managed to knock in two goals in two minutes, leaving us no time to respond. And so the game was lost by two goals but, I must be honest, I was not, in the least disappointed and neither ought the girls to be. They played brilliantly and more than that, they showed that they have real spirit and determination and with that, I have no doubt that they will make huge improvements this season.
Well done, girls.
Belhaven Hill 3rds 1 - 3 Strathallan 3rds