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School set state school record with national title
SIR William Borlase’s wrote their names into history at the weekend when they capped seven years of development by becoming the first state school in history to be crowned National Indoor U18 Hockey Champions.
Their U18s won the title after a penalty shoot-out victory in the semi-final set them up for a dramatic final triumph over Ipswish.
To cap it off, Jack Clee picked up the gong for top-scorer while goalkeepr Will Spratley was named Player of the Tournament.
Director of hockey at the school Mike Irving said: “This is a huge achievement. As far as we’re aware we’re the first state school to do this so it’s massive for the school.
“It shows how we’re moving forward. We’ve got more people playing hockey than ever before and this is only going to be an inspiration.
“I’m so proud of the players. They’re exceptional, not just at the weekend but the professional way they’ve applied themselves throughout.”
Borlase opened up their challenge with a 2-2 draw with Millfield before finding their stride with 4-0, 3-0, and 5-0 victories over Ipswich, Oakham and Wirral.
That took them into a semi-final with last year’s champions Whitgift, who were the only team to have beaten them during the South rounds.
But Borlase matched them blow for blow this time and by the end the two sides were locked at 1-1.
That meant it would be decided by penalites, and it was the Bucks side that held their nerve as they converted all their flicks to go through.
On paper, that was their Everest with a final to come against the same Ipswich side they had beaten convincingly in the groups.
And it appeared to play out that way with Jerry Smith putting his side 1-0 up at half time before Noah Sharples made it 2-0.
Ipswich pulled one back but the game appeared won when they conceded a third to Jack Clee after substituting their keeper in favour of an extra outfield player.
But, in a late twist, they pulled one back and then sensed a dramatic equaliser as they lined up a short corner in the final moments.
However, Spratley made the save and the tension burst like a bubble.
Irving said: “I was always confident. Kevin [Chappell, coach] and I spoke about it and when we got to the venue on Sunday morning and we just knew.
“I’ve been to a few regional and national finals with the boys and girls and always been a little nervous.
“But this time I felt very calm on the day. It was quite strange.”
Meanwhile, Chappell believes Irving’s appointment 18 months ago has been key.
He said: “We've always stumbled at the regional stage and I'd like to thank the Governors and Leadership Team at the school for listening to our requests for a Director of Hockey.
“We wanted someone to come in and give the coaching staff and students that little bit extra that would make the difference and Mike Irving has certainly done that.”
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