Maidenhead Girls u18s show superb skill and composure to lift national cup

Maidenhead Girls u18s once again showed ‘superb skill, effort and composure’ to lift the EH Tier 2 National Cup on Sunday after a 2-0 victory over Folkestone Optimist at Reading Hockey Club.

With the final taking place at Reading's ground in Sonning, Maids had the lion's share of support and they harnessed it well, racing into a 2-0 first half lead thanks to a brace of goals from Umayah Zaman.

Folkestone responded well in the second half, but Maids were defensively disciplined while Alexis Rottier pulled off some exceptional saves when their backline was occasionally breached.

The girls went into Sunday's final motivated by messages of support from Great Britain's Olympic medallists Ellie Rayer and Shona McCallin, and they played with the same belief and spirit that has characterised their run to the final.

After a tense opening 15 minutes, Maids took the lead with Zaman finishing off a well-worked move and she later added to her tally to give the side some breathing space heading into the interval. As expected, Folkestone stepped up their game after the break but, cheered on by a large crowd of supporters, Maids hardly put a foot wrong as they saw the game out, enabling Amelia Tanner to lift the trophy.

Credit must also go to the midfielders who not only defended valiantly when required but also created several second half chances to extend the advantage.

The result caps off an exceptional, undefeated, season for the u18s side, with the team having won nine of their 10 matches and drawing the other. They scored 32 goals in the process and kept six clean sheets. Their route to the final saw them overcome Olton & Warwickshire in the quarterfinals before seeing off Matlock after a tense penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals.

The u18s’ coach, Richard Tapner-Evans, said: “I am so proud of the girls, who have worked tirelessly this season to achieve such an amazing result. They have dominated at this level with superb effort, skill, and composure throughout, often under pressure. They are all a credit to the club as well as their friends and families, who came to show their support.

“They have truly put Maidenhead firmly on the hockey map for 2022. I'd also like to thank all the supporters who roared the team on to victory on Sunday.”

Reflecting on their achievement, Helen Todd, from Maidenhead Hockey Club, wrote: “Huge congratulations to the U18's girls’ squad who won their final today at Reading/Sonning HC. The girls played really well to achieve a 2-0 win against Folkestone.

“It was great to have the match so close to home as this helped us to achieve a huge level of support from all sections of the club.

“Thank you to all of you that came to cheer on our girls.

“You certainly gave them the Maidenhead HC roar!

“Well done again to the girls and their coaches. Not all were able to play today due to other commitments and it has been a full team effort every step of the way to this cup. You should all be super proud.”

The cup winning team featured: Katie Day, Annabel Jones, Matilda O’Dea, Eloise Peacock, Anna Rennie, Alexis Rottier, Verity Szala, Hollie Tanner, Frankie Wilding, Yana Todorova, Umayah Zaman, Yasmin Paton, Amelia Tanner, Emily Tapner-Evans, Hannah Donaldson.

The club is always open to new members and has Easter camps available for Juniors this month. The camps will take place between April 12-14 (open to both members and non-members) and Maids will also be running its popular 'Back to Hockey' season, with further details to be published on the club's website soon.

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