Arnold School’s reputation as one of the North of England’s top hockey schools was further enhanced when the first XI qualified for the National Schools’ Hockey Finals.
The school’s Under-14s had already won through to next week’s finals and the senior side joined them by winning a play-off against Framlingham College from Norwich.
Arnold had finished runners-up in the North final and so played off against the runners-up from the East tournament.
Leeds University staged the North final, in which Arnold won all three group games.
Against Greenhead College in the opener, a quick break by Rachel Fackey led to Georgina Read setting up Harley Greene for the only goal.
The next game against Wakefield Girls was just as close and again one goal clinched it. The match was settled by a penalty from captain Read after Greene was fouled on the goal-line.
In their final group game, Read scored all the goals in a 4-1 win against Wilmslow School.
As group winners, Arnold met Kings School of Chester in the semi-final.
The game ended 0-0 and so was decided by a penalty shoot-out.
Kings got an early advantage but Arnold came back as Amy Bradley saved twice and Greene kept her cool to despatch the winning penalty.
The other Arnold scorers were Fackey, Elizabeth Thorp and Aime Barrow.
Arnold met Cheadle Hulme, their old rivals from the regional round, in the final and tired legs took their toll as Arnold lost 4-0.
However, as runners-up they were assured of a second chance to reach the National Finals via the play-off.
The decider against Framlingham was staged at Cannock, where the Norfolk school dominated much of the first half.
But Arnold defended strongly and broke well, taking a half-time lead thanks to a Thorp penalty after a shot was illegally blocked on the line.
Framlingham continued to pile on the pressure in the second half, forcing Arnold to survive a barrage of penalty corners.
Keeper Bradley made some instinctive saves and Faye Shearer cleared off the line.
The pressure finally paid off as Framlingham equalised with 15 minutes remaining and went ahead six minutes later.
But Arnold refused to panic and Charlotte Greenwood made the match all square from Greene’s cross with nine minutes left.
This meant another shootout and more heroics from Bradley, whose two saves left Arnold needing to convert one of their final two penalties for victory.
This time it was Barrow who slotted home, sealing a 3-1 win after successful strikes by Read and Thorp.
Cannock will also be the venue for the National Finals, with the Under-14 event first on Wednesday, followed by the Under-18s on Thursday and Friday.
*TWO Rossall School hockey teams took on Lancashire county sides which included their own schoolmates
Rossall’s John Bate, Karim Burney, Gus Maree, Harrison Ardron and Jonathan Lee all represented Lancashire Under-13s against the Fleetwood school’s under-14s, while Tom Morrison, James Smith, Sam Alderson, Harry Andrews and Sam Braidford played for Lancashire Under-14s against Rossall Under-15s.
Rossall won both games, the Under-14s winning 5-1 and the Under-15s 3-1.