The AKS U14 hockey team played some superb hockey to finish third in the regional final of the National Schools Tournament but just missed out on a place in the North Finals after a nailbiting semi-final.
With many of the girls experiencing the tournament for the first time, the opening game against Trinity School, Cumbria, was a close affair.
Nerves were eased in the 10th minute when Georgia Cherry converted a corner.
Two minutes later, Trinity scored from a corner of their own and AKS had to defend well to keep the score at 1-1 until half-time.
AKS regained the lead within a minute of the restart, when a great shot from Hannah Turner was saved by the keeper only to fall to Sophie Bridges, who netted the rebound.
Gaining in confidence, AKS scored again when Bridge’s shot was deflected into the goal by a defender.
Sally Stone’s great run on the right just failed to find anyone in the circle and Trinity pulled a goal back on the breakaway.
This set up a nervy finale but AKS held out for their first win.
AKS knew they faced a stiff challenge in game two against The Range school from Liverpool, who went ahead in the second minute.
AKS responded to this wake-up call as two shots by Emily Richmond flew just wide.
Now playing their best hockey of the day, AKS created a number of chances and deservedly equalised on 11 minutes, when Stone forced the ball over the line.
Two minutes later, Farah Druce put AKS in front and a superb team goal made it 3-1.
Richmond scored it with a first-time shot from Stone’s right-wing cross, the goal owing much to Grace Webster’s pressing in midfield.
AKS defended strongly in the second half through Webster, captain Alex Cowburn , Annaleise Haslem and Hannah Beeby, and closed out a 3-1 win which meant they finished top of the group.
The semi-final against Wilmslow School was a very close affair between two good sides.
AKS started slowly as Wilmslow enjoyed a lot of possession and it needed a great double save from Georgina Bowker after 15 minutes to keep the game goalless.
AKS went close themselves when Stone’s cross just failed to find Bridges and it remained 0-0 at half-time.
Haslem made a goal-line clearance and Druce went close with a shot in an end-to-end game.
Wilmslow finally broke the deadlock from a penalty corner, and although AKS threw everything at them in the final five minutes they could not force an equaliser.
Despite their disappointment, AKS can be proud of their efforts in the knowledge they gave everything.