Drive to succeed will fuel The Leys School's quest for Investec National Schools Championship glory
Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre awaits for girls' under-16 hockey squad
Experience could be a key factor when The Leys School under-16s put their exemplary record this season to the test at the Investec National Schools Championships tomorrow (Thursday).
The 16-strong squad have won 12 games out of 12 on their way to Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, scoring 50 goals and conceding three.
Captain Katie Curtis will lead the squad of eight Year 11s and eight Year 10s, including seven who were in The Leys team that reached the national stages last year, into group matches against Wellington College, Canford and Trent College.
According to The Leys director of sport James Clark, there were always expectations that the team could repeat last year’s feat of reaching the national finals.
“We knew we could get back to Lee Valley with this group of girls,” he said. “They were so driven to succeed and progress in each round.
“Winning 12 from 12 and scoring 50 goals, only conceding three is testimony to how good they can be, but that doesn’t tell the full story of their commitment and application in training, matches and tournaments.
“If you consider their effort, commitment and desire, no it isn’t a surprise, but when you consider that many of the opponents have been from schools with far greater numbers, and some who play two terms of hockey, it is quite simply an exceptional achievement to reach the last eight in the country.”
It is a tight-knit group whose team spirit is one of their strengths, as is their hard work in training, and they play a fast, attacking brand of hockey but are able to adapt to all types of situation.
With such an exceptional record, they have had to battle their way through some tough games, and none more so than at the East Finals day.
“We faced three sides who had the ability to beat us and made it very difficult for us to progress and qualify,” said Clark.
“Forest, Bishop’s Stortford and Sevenoaks were all beaten by the single goal and all four sides were so evenly matched.
“I like to think that it was the collective desire, effort and sheer guts that got us across the line that day.”
As for expectations on the day, Clark said: “We want to be competitive with the other schools at the nationals regardless of their reputation.
“We are confident in our ability to play at the highest level and we want the girls to have as much fun as possible playing at the Olympic Park.”
Squad: Katie Curtis (captain), Cerys Bean, Clementine Briggs, Olivia Bullen, Anisha Chahal, Jenny Girgis, Ruby James, Tor Lovell, Anna Miska-Alvarez, Jemima Morgan, Izzy Perry, Issy Routledge, Joanna Saunderson, Gabby Sillis, Sofia Traversone and Milly Wych.