Sudbury Hockey Club to take on Bath Buccaneers in the England Hockey Girls' Under-18s Junior Tier 2 Championship final at Reading
The recent feelgood factor at Sudbury Hockey Club has hit new heights after the Girls Under-18s side ensured they will be vying for a national title in what is believed to be a first for any of their sides.
Still in the glow of the men’s first team’s East League last day Division 1 title triumph, Mark Dudley’s talented age-group side will be aiming to complete the treble at Reading Hockey Club next month.
The side travelled across to Rugby & East Warwickshire and managed to claim a 4-3 victory in what their coach described as a ‘cauldron of noise’ in the England Hockey Girls’ Under-18s Junior Tier 2 Championships semi-final.
It sets up a final with giants Bath Buccaneers, which was meant to be at the home of hockey, Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, but has now been moved to Reading HC, on May 12.
“We are utterly delighted and cannot quite believe it,” said coach Dudley. “We went and won the Home Counties Girls League, which is also quite a big competition.
“For us to do that is one thing but for us to do this and say we are genuinely top drawer is amazing for a small club in the middle of nowhere like we are.”
The club entered the Tier 2 competition – effectively a Plate event – after losing their Tier 1 opener to Cambridge City, who have gone on to reach the final.
Since then Sudbury have enjoyed two big home wins: 8-0 versus Old Loughtonians and 11-1 against Norwich Dragons before Saffron Walden conceded ahead of their scheduled quarter-final.
In Sunday’s semi-final, in which Tilly Griffin starred, Sudbury took a 3-0 lead into the interval with a brace from Catherine Levick and a penalty corner conversion by Beth Irvine.
But they had to survive a test of character as Rugby scored two quick goals, with another following after Sudbury had gone 4-2 ahead via a moment of brilliance from Fran Kent.
There was further success for the girls as a draw and a win in their final two Suffolk Ladies Indoor League fixtures in Ipswich on Tuesday was enough to claim the title.
Dudley feels the national competition has already put Sudbury on the hockey map with National League sides, but is now hoping they can summon one more big performance.
“I need to make sure we do not think we have already achieved our goal and that is it,” he said.
“This has been a dream of mine for years, going back seven to eight years ago when the boys got three games away.”
He said their success had been a collaboration of talent, hard-work and the drive being matched by the girls’ parents.