School Sport: Bancroft's hockey girls book first-ever trip to National finals
PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 November 2019
Bancroft's School pupils have been celebrating after their under-18 girls' hockey team secured a trip to the National finals for the first time.
They eased to the Essex title earlier this year, beating Coopers Coborn, Chelmsford CHS, Brentwood and local rivals Chigwell at Old Loughts, scoring 21 goals without reply.
And they came out on top at the East Region play-offs in Ipswich thanks to draws with Tunbridge Wells Grammar and the Royal Masonic School, plus wins over Culford School and Saffron Walden High.
Bancroft's then competed in the East Regional finals on home turf at Redbridge Sports Centre and they cruised to a 3-0 win over Kent's Sevenoaks School thanks to a hat-trick from England under-16 international Grace O'Malley-Kumar.
Hertfordshire's Parmiter's School were up next and Bancroft's took the lead with another goal from O'Malley-Kumar.
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But it proved a tougher test and coach Jo Fryer-Green looked on nervously as a host of short corners were conceded before victory was secured.
Back-to-back wins sent Bancroft's into the finals and a 2-0 win over Cranrbook School, thanks to goals from vice-captain Eleanor Channer and a fifth of the day from O'Malley-Kumar, saw them lift the silverware.
O'Malley-Kumar was named as the team's player of the tournament after scoring in all three of their matches, while captain and goalkeeper Anika Mayor inspired the team throughout.
Emilia Parsons and Kiera Murphy also impressed for Bancroft's who will go to the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre on March 3.
Fryer-Green said: "This is a fantastic achievement from a very committed and hard-working squad.
"The girls were on tour together during the summer holidays and the experience clearly bonded them and taught them a lot about the importance of teamwork.
"They have shown incredible focus so far, we just need to make sure this doesn't slip in the next couple of months ahead of the finals."