It was the final week of the Yorkshire U14 girls league on Sunday and Adel had morning and afternoon fixtures with both our 1st and 2nd XI playing a 3 match round robin series in their respective leagues. The forecast was cold and wet – typical junior hockey weather and the girls did incredibly well to keep their enthusiasm and skills up in hand numbing weather.
The 1st XI travelled to Doncaster and started strongly against Driffield scoring two well worked goals. Driffield came back strongly to get one back and only some good saves from the Adel keeper and a bit of luck kept our noses ahead. Some good running up front from Jamiee, Alice and debutant Emily was causing issues for Driffield, whilst Amber and Hannah were tackling and distributing from the middle of the park.
With no rest the team were straight back on to play Doncaster in what we all knew would be a stern test. Unfortunately a 6 minute spell of pushing forwards and leaving ourselves exposed at the back meant Doncasters slick passing and speedy breaks netted them four quick goals without reply. A change in formation from coach Hilton steadied the ship and Adel started to apply some pressure of their own but it was Doncaster who finished the game off with a fifth goal. Some good defensive work from Izzy, Katie and Amara despite being sometimes faced with 5 or 6 counter-attacking Doncaster players.
After a 30 minute breather we faced Ben Rhydding who we knew would come at us hard, and we weren’t disappointed. Some good defending and saves from Isobel allowed us to absorb pressure and take an early lead. Ben Rhydding played some good hockey and were threatening the Adel goal and got one back. A nervous 5 minutes as Ben Rhydding pushed forward, a finger tip save from Isobel and a shot over the bar meant we closed out the game 1:1 for a 2 point score draw. Fiona was pushing forward and creating chances with debutant Helen, Charlotte and Laura making some crucial tackles in the middle of the park.
This was enough to finish second in the league and means the team qualifies for the Yorkshire U14 playoffs so well done all the girls. The 1st XI have shown consistency throughout the whole season and some great periods of play to stay in the top two divisions. With some minor improvements in making crucial passes and not committing everyone forwards I think the girls moving up to U16 will go from strength to strength whilst those remaining in the U14s next year will be the bedrock of the team.
Not to be outdone the 2nd XI faced the same amount of fixtures in the afternoon at Ben Rhydding. Coach Lewis was hoping for some good results following improvement in all the matches played on previous game weekends, and this was their finest performances to date.
First up was Brigg, who competed strongly in the past and started well without forcing any clear cut opportunities. However, Adel grew into the game and two quick goals for Jess Farry midway through the game gave Adel the upper hand and they never looked troubled again.
The second fixture against Selby was one that Adel 2nd XI wanted to show their improvements in. Having narrowly beaten this side in the past, Adel attacked relentlessly through this game and could have scored more than the 3-0 win they ended up with. A superb press saw Selby trapped in their own half and Adel worked tirelessly to make sure this game was won comfortably. At this point in the afternoon, goalie Issy Storey was yet to touch the ball, and was a cold and wet spectator.
The final fixture proved the most challenging. Adel’s press effective again, but Airedale were quick to break with numbers when the opportunity presented itself. However a sustained period of attacking, with four penalty corners in a row saw Adel eventually break the deadlock, Alex Bedford’s spectacular strike the difference between the two teams. There was still time for some late pressure from Airedale and with ‘keeper Storey called into action to maintain her clean sheet for the day, the victory was sealed.
Coach Lewis was full of praise for his team, and very pleased with the progress from the start of the season. Possibly the most rewarding part of coaching is seeing young people grow and develop, and this team have definitely raised the bar in terms of showing what can be achieved with effort and practice.