Kitty’s purring to­wards a dou­ble

The Hockey Paper - - FOCUS ON YOUTH - By Charles Ran­dall

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

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