Jon Peckett predicts The Perse School to seize moment at Investec National Schools Championships
Hockey finals awaits under-18 girls' squad
Jon Peckett believes that The Perse School can draw on their experience when they take part in the 2017 Investec National Schools Championships for Girls Finals.
The under-18 squad have already won the county championship, the east divisional tournament and the east finals to make their way to the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre today and tomorrow.
And in the national rounds they will face Millfield, Trent College and Ardingley – with the top two in the two groups qualifying for the final stages.
“Millfield were traditionally the go to school for scholarships but in the last 15 years, Repton on the hockey front have overtaken them,” said Peckett, the head of hockey at The Perse School.
“Ardingley have got a couple of experienced England hockey players running their hockey and Trent have done well and were runners-up to Repton [last year].
“But we only know of them seeing their players up at the higher levels.”
Peckett believes the team – many of whom have been together since Year 7 and everyone since Year 9 – are well prepared for the tournament after an excellent schools’ hockey campaign.
“We are very disciplined in schools cup competitions in playing percentage hockey because in the shorter matches before Christmas we were only playing 30-minute games and if you give the ball away you can concede a goal and getting a goal back is difficult,” said Peckett.
“It becomes a tactical game of hockey and ensuring you attack through your strengths and make good decisions on the ball.
“We’ve only conceded three goals in 20 matches – it was pretty good defence.
“With players like Tess Howard, who can score corners at crucial times, that puts pressure on the opposition and Ellie (Harrison) marshals the team in the central midfield.
“I always have confidence in them that if we go behind, they will come. And I have confidence they will make the right decisions on the pitch.
“We will always create good chances, our midfield is particularly strong, while we don’t give much away at the back.”
And Peckett is confident that the team will take the tournament in their stride, with the two group winners playing off for the national title and the two runners-up battling out for third and fourth place.
“Of course there is always pressure because that’s why we do it, but they have been to the national indoor finals two years ago and they were runners-up,” he said.
“This year, we got to the national finals again and all those experiences help the players – they know what to expect.
“They are all excited, as they should be, and in these tournaments where it’s a pool and then you are playing off, you always have a very good chance.
“For a lot of the team, it will be their last experience of school hockey all together which brings extra determination to take this opportunity.”
And Peckett added: “I have enjoyed coaching them for the last three years.”