Galashiels Academy ended Kelso’s domination of the South Schools S2 Hockey Tournament at Shedden Park on Saturday in one of the most competitive events in memory.
Played in two pools, with the top two from each playing off for a final spot, no quarter was given as each team strove for pitch perfection.
Gala won the first pool after defeating Earlston and Jedburgh Grammar School, and drawing with Kelso, while the hosts drew with Earlston and beat Jedburgh to take the second spot.
Peebles High School came out on top in the other pool on goal difference from Selkirk High, and the semi-finals proved extremely close with excellent defending across the teams. Both were finally settled on running penalties, with Gala edging Selkirk and Kelso pipping Peebles.
The final was an exciting, end-to-end affair watched by a large crowd, and it took a stunning angled strike from Danielle Walker, from a penalty corner with the last act of the first half, to win it.
Both teams produced some great hockey and fashioned numerous opportunities but just as their superb goalie Alice Little could not be beaten again in the Kelso goal, so Gala’s excellent keeper Abbie Lazarri would not let the home strikers past and the visitors finally released Kelso’s three-year hold on the S2 shield.
The B tournament, played at Woodside Park, proved just as competitive, with Earlston winning after pipping each of Gala, Kelso and Peebles by a solitary goal. Gala finished runners-up after edging out Peebles on running penalties and there were also great performances from hosts, the Kelso ‘Cheetahs’, in a tournament full of quality hockey.
Organisers would like to thank all the Kelso parents, grandparents and older pupils who baked for and supported the event, the teachers who umpired, and Kelso Cricket Club and Kelso Football Club for the use of their facilities. And, of course, the young players for their fantastic entertainment.
Galashiels Academy: A. Lazarri, L. Pate, A. Simpson (capt), H. Jones, T. Milliken, E. Ballantyne, K. Johnson, D. Walker, L. Templeton, R. Gallagher, S. Bell and L. Purves.
Kelso High School: A. Little, S. Chatburn, H. Hay (capt), E. Mack, E. Scott, R. Harvey, L. Angus, A. Graham, A. Purves, A. Gillie, S. Dalgleish, H. Brennan, K. Gibson, C. Thom and M. Wright.