Promotion up for grabs from Super 6s division one
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.
Intense: The Under-18 Schools Super 6s was fiercly contested, as epitomised by this match between Kingston Grammar and Queens College