Ben Rhydding’s under-16 girls produced an impressive performance to finish runners up in the Yorkshire League play-offs at Halifax on Sunday.
It represented their best-ever finish in the competition and was a reward for some determined performances throughout the day.
Their opening encounter against league runners up Leeds Adel was a frustrating match with Rhydding having much of the possession, territorial advantage and shots on target, but unable to convert.
As the match progressed Rhydding began to give away possession easily and it finished goalless.
Their next opponents were Kingston upon Hull who had beaten Sheffield Hallam in their opening match.
Rhydding started well with Alice Edwards opening the scoring. The match was played at a fast pace with Rhydding looking to extend their lead and Hull attacking on the break.
Holly Hellawell and Fiona Holdsworth each played a solid half each in goal, while Rebecca Mountain and Abi Spencer were outstanding in the heart of the defence, intercepting Hull’s final ball into their forwards.
Issy Austin and Ella Fitzpatrick worked tirelessly at half back to counter Hull’s pacy wing forwards. Hull eventually managed to draw level when Rhydding gifted their opponents the ball in midfield, Hull then broke in numbers and finished well.
Rhydding rallied again, with Grace Malir, Sarah Pope, Zoe Judkowski, Rose Hagen and Lauren Day controlling the midfield while Edwards and Rosie Ogden created chances up front.
Rhydding’s winner came from Abi Spencer. She picked up the ball outside of the D and beat several defenders before calmly slotting it past the Hull keeper for a deserved victory. The final group match was against Sheffield Hallam, who themselves required a win to qualify to the semi-finals.
Rhydding required a draw to finish second and a win to top the group. Despite Sheffield’s best efforts, they were no match for Rhydding on the day, and a fantastic team effort produced a 3-1 win with Ogden scoring a hat-trick. Thirsk, who had beaten England Hockey National Cup runners up Wakefield to earn their place, were Rhydding’s semi-final opponents.
Thirsk were full of confidence and started the stronger. Rhydding were pegged back in their own half for long spells but stout defending and a belief in themselves saw them weather the storm before beginning to create chances of their own.
The match look destined to end goalless and result in penalty flicks when Rhydding earned a late short corner.
Pope’s initial shot that was deflected and Edwards was on hand to strike the ball into the net. With less than a minute now left on the clock, Thirsk threw everything forward, but Rhydding managed to breakdown play and clear their lines to reach their first final. League Champions and play off favourites York were their final opponents. With Spencer suffering from migraine, Rhydding made changes to their line up.
Unfortunately York scored in the first minute and then pushed for a second. Despite being under constant pressure Rhydding battled hard to stay in the match.
York added a second mid way through the half, but Rhydding responded again and began to put pressure on the York defence, resulting in a string of short corners.
Rhydding could not convert and lost 2-0. The disappointment was tempered by the praise of the event organisers who praised the attitude, play and commitment of the players.