The defending National Champions U18 Boys were back in action at the weekend in the next round of the Tier 1 Plate competition and the winner of the match would reach the last 5 of this competition. Opposition was none other than heavyweights and last year’s finalists Cambridge City.
Adding the appropriate references to the recent Hockey World Cup, the coach’s German heritage made for a pre match speech down the lines of “whatever the score, whatever the time left, stick to the game plan and most importantly believe in yourself”.
With the PB a match unfolded which was a worthy warm-up for the M1 National League match to follow. The boys in red immediately pressed the opposition back in their own half and created turnovers and chances. It looked like a good day in the office early on …. until out of nowhere Cambridge went 1-0 up. Well, never mind, remember what the coach said …. stick to the game plan and believe in yourself ! And this the boys did, pressure, turnover, chance. But something was amiss …. oh yes, goal scoring. 16 circle entries in the first half alone and yet it required a penalty stroke to equalise. Leonard Schröer was through on goal and the excellent Cambridge goal keeper could only stop him with a tackle of the agricultural sort. The well deserved stroke was duly dispatched by Scott Ramsay, exact details of the execution shall remain confidential.
1-1 at halftime and some praise was in order but also a reminder that a large part of winning matches consists of scoring goals – at least one more than the opposition was the working theory. Second half and the same picture unfolded. The Southgate steam train was rolling wave after wave of attacks towards the Cambridge goal and the opposition goalie had bagged his Man of the match award safely by that time. 15 mins to go and still 1-1. The midfield crew of Scott, Kiran, Guy and the turnover monster Vivek tormented the opposition, Josh clocked up mile after mile on the right channel, the forward line Leo, Reggie, Leonard, Philipp and Jonas peppered the GK with shots and at the back it was Ethan, Freddie, Will, Lucas and Veysal who shut up shop. On the sidelines Sam and Chris provided soothing words and calm advice to the author or this report.
10 minutes to go and still 1-1 despite all the efforts. And this is the point where the author and coach has to pay huge respects to his team – they stuck to the script “stick to the game plan and most importantly believe in yourself” and did not give up. In fact, with every minute they seemed more determined to decide the match in regular time. 5 mins to go, the shootout was looming and another penalty corner was won with circle entry #33. Different ideas and variations had been tried, yet all without success. It was now time for brute force. Lucas Jaehnig took aim and the unstoppable drag flick went top corner. Finally, there it was, what a relief.
The final minutes became slightly tense, however the boys brought home the 2-1 win to reach the quarterfinal which will take place on Sunday 26th February at home against Sevenoaks. Keep the date free, U18 Boys matches are top entertainment.
MoM: Lucas Jaehnig
Goals: Scott Ramsay (PS), Lucas Jaehnig (PC)