School aces hold nerve to hit back in national final
DELIGHTED Beaconsfield High School are celebrating after becoming the national U19 schools champions.
After claiming the county and regional titles in a gruelling tournament, Beaconsfield qualified as one of the 18 best sides in the country.
The memory of a previous onegoal loss against Leeds Grammar drove them on and that resilience proved essential in a tense final against Queen Ethelburga’s.
Headteacher Rachel Smith praised the “wonderfully-talented students” and their coaches for a success for a school which prides it- self on sporting prowess. Beaconsfield had to fight their way through the qualifying stages first, which meant eight games in almost two hours of full-speed and high-intensity combat.
They beat Compton 10-8 and then Millfield 7-5 before settling for more comfortable successes against Dame Allan’s (20-2) and Guildford High (15-8).
A break before the group match with Queen Ethelburga’s – who had not lost all season – almost paid off but the match was lost 12-11 after being level with 12 seconds to go.
An inspirational talk from coach Kat Ratnapala proved timely as Beacosnfield won their next two games, against Bishop Vesey’s Grammar (15-6) and Oakham (14-6).
With both Queen Ethelburga’s and Compton also thriving, the final games of qualifying were key, Beaconsfield beating St Albans High School 15-3 in their final game to ensure a semi-final slot, seeing off Holy Cross 9-7 in yet another tight game and setting up a rematch with Queen Ethelburga’s, who had pipped Barking Abbey.
Yet the final started badly, a 3-0 deficit alarming in matches where each half lasted just seven minutes.
But Beaconsfield levelled and with the lead taken, kept a lid on celebrations through a nervy final minute to claim an 11-6 victory and spark delighted celebrations for the team plus Ratnapala and assistants Sam Perry and Francesca Wells.
“I’m so very proud of their efforts and those of our PE staff, who have all committed themselves wholeheartedly and created incredible success not only for themselves but for the school,” said head Smith. “It is this kind of event that further proves the importance of maintaining the very best standards of sport in the school.”
Champs: Beaconsfield High’s U19 schools netball champions, from left, rear: Kat Short, Alex Taal, Sadie Thomas, Bea Overturf and Katie Bowen and, front: Josie Kucera, Amber Bains, Anya Wood Millie Patrick, Natalya Short and Lauren Torley