Kitty’s purring towards a double
SURBITON and England Under 16 attacker Kitty Baccanello returns to Lee Valley on Saturday, hoping her goals will land a second national crown this season.
A month ago, she scored the winner as Wellington College took the Investec National Schools Under 16 title with a 1-0 win over Repton, and she finished as the tournament’s leading scorer.
Now she is back with Surbiton, who are aiming for their fourth consecutive success in the National Club Championship at this age group.
Surbiton field a cluster of England players to further their cause, and the experience of Emily Leeson, Baccanello and England colleague Darcy Bourne, all winners with Wellington, should help.
Surrey have become the strongest county for female hockey these days, from Surbiton’s senior National League champions down through the age groups, with Surbiton High School winning the girls Under 14 schools national title recently.
Though the national schools age group titles at Under 16 went to Wellington, in Berkshire, and the girls Under 18 to Repton in Derbyshire, one could make a case that competition for places is tougher in Surrey than the rest of England combined.
Surbiton, captained by Zoe Allchurch, must start as overwhelming favourites this weekend ahead of Beeston, three times finalists but never winners. The two clubs play in separate groups, with the table winners meeting in the final.
Beeston have some threat in attack through Nina Apoola, their captain and sole England player, and they start in an awkward group that includes Southgate, last year’s beaten finalists. Southgate lost that final to Surbiton 7-1, an experience their remaining players could turn to their advantage.
Interestingly, Surbiton and Beeston, with their strong regional influence and burgeoning youth development programmes in recent years, are the only two clubs with a presence in both girls and boys section this year.
Last year, Surbiton became the first club to win the boy and girl titles, and they chase a second boy-girl double.
UNDER 16 BOYS: Saturday April 8 – 9.30: Guildford v Bowdon, Havant v Beeston; 12.05: Surbiton v Harrogate, Cheltenham v Lichfield, 2.15: Bowdon v Havant, Beeston v Guildford, 4.50: Lichfield v Harrogate, Cheltenham v Surbiton. Sunday April 9 – 9.15: Cheltenham v Harrogate, Surbiton v Lichfield; 10.20: Bowdon v Beeston, Havant v Guildford, 2.10: 3/4 play-off, 2.25: Final.
GIRLS: Saturday April 8 – 10.35: Stourport v Isca, Beeston v Southgate; 1.10: Ben Rhydding v Reading, Surbiton v Marlow, 3.45: Beeston v Isca, Southgate v Stourport, 5.55: Surbiton v Reading, Marlow v Ben Rhydding. Sunday April 9 – 11.50: Reading v Marlow, Surbiton v Ben Rhydding; 12.55: Isca v Southgate, Beeston v Stourport, 4: 3/4 play-off, 4.15: Final.
Fab five: Beeston U16 quintet Adam Bashir, Toby Stanley, Harry Troop, George O'Brien and Henry Croft