Borders hockey was put firmly on the map on Saturday as South’s U14 team upset the applecart at the U14 Inter District tournament in Peffermill.
For the first time in the history of the tournament, the South girls first made the semi-final, then dispatching the opposition, South West, they marched on into the final.
The 18-girl squad, from across the Borders, was selected after rigorous trials and had put in a great deal of hard work with coach Janet Jack.
Drawn in Pool B, with East, West and North, the girls were fully aware of the task in front of them but each team member was focused and ready to work ‘for the team’.
First up, the girls faced East – a tough start, but they were determined not to be intimidated by East’s reputation. A cracking goal by Blythe Duff, just five minute into the game, gave the players the confidence boost they needed. Nerves were steadied and they went into half time 1-0 up.
East replied with a goal of their own five minutes in to the second half and, despite the best efforts of the South girls, netting the ball past a pretty proficient goalie proved impossible.
A 1-1 draw was a fabulous result for the Southern girls and certainly kept the mood in the camp high. Against North, they struggled to find their hape and the opposition was perhaps feistier than they had anticipated.
A much-needed goal, struck by captain Holly Shepherd, just on the half-time whistle, was most welcome. Again, South dominated the second half of the game but shots on goal were just a little too wide. After 15 minutes, South were victorious by 1-0.
They knew they had to win or draw against West to proceed to the semi-finals – and a West goal, two minutes from half time, could well have unsettled the South girls. However, it had the opposite effect – driven on, and firing on all cylinders,, the yong ladies produced a well-worked team move, which began when the defence cleared the ball, resulted in a cracking shot, again on the half-time whistle, from Hannah Patterson.
West pressed the Southern girls hard in the second half but, at this point, they had met their match and the final score was 1-1.
History was made at this point, as no U14 South team before them had made the semi-finals of an Inter District hockey tournament.
The winners of Pool A, South West, were ready for the Borders girls and had clearly done their homework. They had some strong physical players and did well to block South’s attack.
Two short corners were awarded in quick succession, with the second resulting in another Holly Shepherd goal. South were now only 15 minutes away from the final – and with no more goals scored, they knew eventually they had reached it.
Results from the other semi, where West were victorious, meant South were up against them once more.
With 22 girls all keen to grab a gold medal, the pace was fast and furious. The teams were well matched and the half-time score sat at 0-0.
Eleven minutes in to the second half, South foughtextremely hard but were unable to clear a very hard shot from a short corner.
With four minutes left, the Borderers gave it their all but the West defence stood firm, leading to South’s only defeat of the day.
Janet Jack was effervescent in her praise for this talented and committed group of young ladies, as she said: “They train hard, absorb all advice, support one another and are true team players. Every one of them deserved success.”
Much to the delight of all the South supporters, the girls were presented their runners-up medals by fellow Borderer and now GB squad member, Sarah Robertson, from Selkirk.