No fewer than six Christ College teams have reached National Finals this year, and yesterday (3rd April) the U18 boys, U14 boys and U12 mixed teams competed in Newtown in their respective National Finals championships.
It was a dramatic day, with news reaching us as the day went on that first the U12s, then the U14s, and finally the U18s had won their competitions, and the U18s by the tightest of margins and in the final minute of the game.
Head of Christ College, Emma Taylor, said: “One can only imagine the atmosphere on the buses back to Brecon with a hat-trick of National Champions returning triumphantly. The coaches, I know, are if anything even prouder than the players, and none more so than Dr Dominic Phelps, whose leadership of the hockey at Christ College has produced so many high quality performances from so many teams over the past few years.”
Christ College U12s
First up were the Christ College U12s, consisting of Kate Jenkins (captain), Kitt Stephens (vice captain), Carlotta Chinchuretta (goal keeper), William Hope, Henry Alp-Williams, Milly Sandhu, Willow Ransome, Ethan Morgan, Chi Wing Chung, Louis Hayes. Despite a nervous start, Christ College settled into some composed play against opponenents Ysgol Tywyn. Christ College’s first goal from William Hope settled nerves and gave the team a lift. A second goal from Kate Jenkins extended their lead which they held comfortably until full time.
Next up were Ysgol Gwyr, a team that Christ College had beaten in the South Wales tournament last week, but Ysgol Gwyr had won the tournament on goal difference, so the Christ College team were keen to put this to rights. Once more it was a close tie with some strong clearances from Gwyr at times causing Christ College to have to scramble back in defence. A solitary goal from Henry Alp-Williams in the first half ensured the tie went in Christ College’s favour.
The last game against The Alun School, Mold, brought a high degree of pressure on the team, but the advice of “play each game as it comes” was received and understood. The Alun School were physically the biggest team Christ College had played but an early goal from William Hope again saw Christ College’s spirits and energy lift and they played with real heart. Goalkeep Carlotta Chinchuretta had her first serious saves to make in and kept the sheet clean. The Christ College U12s ushered the match to a conclusion, winning 1-0 to claim the Welsh Schools U12s Champions title.
Coach Mr Magnus Caithness said: “The U12s hockey team has developed and improved as a squad greatly. With 7 pupils starting as non-hockey players at the start of the season, it is a testament to their efforts and the coaching given by Christ College’s Chris Marriott that they have come so far in such a short period of time. It has been a privilege to be their coach.”
Christ College U14s
The National Finals in Newtown were the U14s’ reward for winning the South Wales Regional tournament last week in Swansea.
Their first game was against Rydal Penhros. After a tense opening few minutes in which Christ College created several good chances, Will Bush managed to put the Christ College side ahead. This settled the side down and good passing resulted in a second goal. Ignacio Noarbe put in a third goal just on the final whistle to secure a 3-0 win and a good start to their tournament.
The second tie was a rematch of last week’s South Wales Regional Final against Ysgol Glantaf. Again it was a very evenly matched game with Christ College creating more chances but they simply could not convert the pressure into points. It was Glantaf who scored first with a good strike from a short corner, a lead they kept until the half time break. Christ College regrouped at half time and started the second half with the message of ‘do the basics well’ ringing in their ears! Ben Gower-Fox began controlling the defence and allowed Christ College to raise the tempo. Will Bush got Christ College back on level terms with a well-taken goal and a second goal from Jet Treasure-Jeffries knocked the stuffing out of the opponents. Good work by captain Harry Copp and Henry Morgan-Gervis resulted in a third goal which gave much needed breathing room. Credit to Glantaf as they kept up the pressure, scoring a late goal to leave the final score 3-2 to Christ College.
The final match was against Ysgol Tywyn meant that a draw or a Christ College win would see the title heading south to Brecon. The Christ College boys maintained the standards set in the previous games. Matthew Jenkins and Ignacio Chinchurreta worked well up front and Harry Copp was as solid as ever in midfield. Ignacio opened the scoring and Will Bush added a second giving Christ College a 2-0 at half time. The second half saw Christ College take firm control the game, and the team played some of their best hockey. One of Christ College’s most improved players this season, goalkeeper Jack Christian, was once again on top form. The team had Jack to thank for his heroics in the South Wales Regional tournament last week, as his vital save in the Penalty Shoot-out was a vital component in last week’s win. In the remainder of the National Finals, the Christ College U14s were rewarded with further goals from Will Bush and Matthew Jenkins and the team finished the tournament with an emphatic 4-0 win.
The Christ College U14s coach, Mr Ali Copp, said: “Congratulations to a super team who have really progressed enormously. They really have come on leaps and bounds in the past few weeks, thanks to the excellent coaching of Christ College’s Chris Marriott.”
Christ College U18s
With both the U12s and U14s winning their respective tournaments, it fell to the U18s to provide the closing act to a potential hat-trick of National Titles.
The 15 man squad, led by Captain of Boys Hockey and Captain of Wales U18, Ben Wigmore, travelled to Newtown as South Wales winners on the back of a season that has seen only a single narrow loss. Standing in their way were last year’s defeated U18 National Finalists, Eirias High School of Colwyn Bay, boasting several Welsh internationals of their own. What was to follow was to contain all the pieces of an epic drama, with tension until the last moment and victory coming from the most unlikely source.
Eirias began the match positively with aggressive moves through the Christ College midfield. It was Christ College, however, who opened the scoring through an excellent Penalty Corner, converted with great reflexes by 1st XI top scorer Harrison Kent. The first half ebbed and flowed to a conclusion with Christ College still in the ascendance 1-0 when the half-time hooter went.
Small adjustments were made in the five minute break and courage summoned before the teams went head to head again. Once more, Eirias opened brightly, achieving their first Penalty Corner of the match within minutes of the restart, which they duly converted through a cleverly-worked move. Christ College then responded with another Penalty Corner of their own, taking the lead 2-1, through right-back Dominic Hayes. In spite of this swift reply, Eirias continued to build significant, urgent pressure and when another Penalty Corner was achieved they leveled the scores at 2-2. The match then continued to open up, with end to end action but few chances.
With four minutes to go the final then took a dramatic turn, with Eirias awarded a sequence of Penalty Corners that Christ College simply could not defend convincingly enough to win a reprieve. After 4 corners, Eirias eventually broke the CCB defense, only for the goal to be disallowed by the umpires.
With barely seconds to go Christ College surged up the right hand side, with Ben Foxley carrying the ball into the ‘D’ and winning a penalty corner. The final whistle was blown immediately to signal that the corner would be the very last play of the match.
With their entire outfield team around the edge of the ‘D’ Christ College knew that this was their chance to secure victory. The ball was then injected but dramatically missed by the trapper. Luckily midfielder Jiwan Rana was alive to the mis-trap, stopped the ball before it left the 5 metre area and played it back inside the ‘D’. What ensued was a furious couple of seconds as Eirias tried with desperation to clear the ball out. Step up 1st XI debutant Alex Humphreys, who managed to squeeze the ball behind the Eirias keeper to secure Christ College’s first ever U18 hockey triumph in remarkable fashion.
As the goal was confirmed, subs, coaches and watching parents flooded on to the pitch to congratulate the team on a fantastic and memorable result. An incredible, pulsating end, to a quite incredible day of hockey.
Dr Dominic Phelps commented: “Thus ends a phenomenal season of Hockey at Christ College. With all 3 girls teams placing at the National Finals and all 3 teams yesterday winning their National titles, the dominance and excellence of Christ College in Wales in this sport is clear for all to see. Thanks go to all the players and coaches involved, especially our Hockey Professional, Chris Marriott, whose hard work and fantastic technical coaching has allowed Christ College to rise to the top so quickly and so effectively. Ever greater glories will no doubt follow in future but 11 trophies in one season will certainly be a hard act to follow!”
Head of Christ College, Emma Taylor, added: “What a phenomenal achievement by all of these teams. Many congratulations to them as well as to our incredible coaches.”
In 2010, the Christ College U14s won their National Tournament, and in 2011 and 2012 the U16s won their National Tournament. Ben Wigmore, Dominic Hayes, Harrison Kent and Jiwan Rana featured in these tournaments as well as in the U18s tournament-winning team yesterday!
In the final school assembly of the Lent Term this morning (4th April) Mrs Taylor congratulated all of the coaches and players of the six Christ College National Finalists, inviting the captains of the teams to receive applause from the school:
- The U14s girls, who were Runners-Up at thier National Finals, under captain Lenka Halpin;
- The U16s girls, who reached the semi-finals of their National Finals, under captain Emily Devoy;
- The U18s girls, who were also semi-finalists in their National Finals, under captain of hockey, Ariadne Bridge.
And joining them were the three winning captains from yesterday’s National Finals who were presented with the magnificent trophies they fought so hard for:
- For the U12 team, Kate Jenkins;
- For the U14 boys team, captain Harry Copp;
- And for the U18s boys team, captain Ben Wigmore.
There was one final award in the assembly today and that was for the Christ College 1st XI hockey captain and Wales U18 hockey international Ben Wigmore, who was awarded Full School Colours for his exceptional sporting talent at school, national and international level, highly effective leadership, and significant and lasting contributions to the sporting life of Christ College.
Congratulations to all!