Pro­mo­tion up for grabs from Su­per 6s divi­sion one

The Hockey Paper - - NEWS - by Adam The­ofi­latos

A FIFTH Un­der-18 Schools Su­per 6s ti­tle has set firm foun­da­tions for future hockey de­vel­op­ment at Kingston Gram­mar School, ac­cord­ing to in­door cap­tain Owen Wil­liamson.

After com­ing into the tour­na­ment as rel­a­tive underdogs, Kingston si­lenced even their harsh­est crit­ics by beat­ing tour­na­ment favourites Whit­gift 3-1 on penalty strokes in Sun­day’s fi­nal.

Kingston were forced to toil for their win and went be­hind early, but Wil­liamson’s re­li­able drag flick from a penalty cor­ner flashed the ball past the Whit­gift de­fence to square up the af­fair be­fore half­time.

Whit­gift came within mil­lime­tres of vic­tory but were de­nied only by the hero­ics of Ro­nan Har­veyKelly, who pro­duced a sen­sa­tional block from the flick of Joshua Cog­nil­lio with sec­onds re­main­ing.

A draw at full-time meant the game was de­cided through penalty strokes, but Whit­gift’s calm man­ner through­out the contest crum­bled un­der the pres­sure and Kingston stormed to their maiden na­tional in­door ti­tle.

“What we have man­aged to­day is an amaz­ing achieve­ment and ev­ery­one has given more than 100 per cent,” Wil­liamson said.

“We wanted to get to the semi-fi­nals but we knew that we needed to de­fend our hearts out, at­tack well and with pace and we knew that if we did that we would give our­selves the chance we de­served.

“We have found a way to play and it has worked, so now if the younger lads can con­tinue to de­velop this well, then we can as­sure our­selves many more happy mo­ments ahead.

“But I must em­pha­sise that it’s not about the achieve­ment, it is about the work that we have put in to get where we are to­day.”

In a game that was fiercely con­tested through­out, Whit­gift may count them­selves un­lucky, hav­ing breezed through to the fi­nal un­beaten.

Their coach, Dr Karl Stagno, said that de­spite the dis­ap­point­ment, the loss would build the team’s morale and de­sire to win a fifth un­der-18 ti­tle next year.

“It’s all about the jour­ney, we are very much about mak­ing sure we are do­ing the right things be­cause it’s sport and you have to,” he said.

“There were one or two poor de­ci­sions in the fi­nal that un­for­tu­nately didn't go our way, but those are things you can’t con­trol.

“What you can con­trol is the way you play and I have to give the boys credit for the way they han­dled the pres­sure in the semi­fi­nal, be­cause deal­ing with that is tough.

“I’m gut­ted and of course I am dis­ap­pointed for them, but it would have been far worse if I felt the boys hadn’t turned up and choked un­der the pres­sure, which wasn’t the case.”

Kingston made the fi­nal after three wins from four in Pool D, beat­ing King’s Ch­ester, Rep­ton and Queens Col­lege – los­ing only to The Perse School.

Whit­gift recorded wins over Dean Close, Ip­swich, Oakham and Eg­glescliffe in Pool C.

Rep­ton and Oakham fin­ished run­ners up in the pools, with the former – last year’s win­ners – be­ing beaten 2-0 by Whit­gift in the semi-fi­nal.

And if any­one had wanted a pre­view of what was to hap­pen in the fi­nal, they could have watched Kingston’s pre­vi­ous game, where they despatched Oakham 4-3 on strokes.

Dean Close, Ip­swich and Eg­glescliffe failed to make it out of Pool C, with none of the three sides man­ag­ing more than a sin­gle win from their four fix­tures, while in Pool D, The Perse School missed out on a semi-fi­nal spot on goal dif­fer­ence, after they fin­ished level with Rep­ton on seven points.

But a 6-1 drub­bing by their ri­vals left them in third, with Queens Col­lege and King’s Ch­ester also fail­ing to progress.

PIC­TURE: Andy Cray­ford

In­tense: The Un­der-18 Schools Su­per 6s was fier­cly con­tested, as epit­o­mised by this match be­tween Kingston Gram­mar and Queens Col­lege

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