MARLOW HC’s U12 girls are ranked second in the country after a blistering performance at the National Finals on Sunday.
They joined the ten best clubs in the country at Cannock after a penalty flick triumph in the South Finals, and then went on to underline the club’s emergence as a coming force in junior hockey with a storming run all the way to the final.
Surbiton finally halted their progress, but manager Simon Copeman believes the team’s success has been well-deserved.
He said: “There has been a tremendous amount of effort and sacrifices to get to this stage.
“It has been a two-year journey, culminating in victory at the Bucks Cup, the traumatic shoot out at the South Finals, and now number two in the country.
“We could not have asked for more from the girls. “We have managed to peak at the right time and for myself and coach Trevor Jackson to witness these girls perform to the best of their ability at the very highest level makes us very proud.”
Marlow joined the champions and runners up from the North, South, Midlands, East and West regions in Cannock, and were immediately in at the deep end against North winners Ben Rhydding.
Despite four short corners, they had to settle for a 0-0 draw and they were heading for an early exit in game two with Worcester also holding them to a goalless draw.
But after a crucial stop from keeper Anna Hume, captain Jemima Copeman finally broke the deadlock near the end.
Marlow added another victory in game three when they came from 1-0 down to beat Worcester 2-1 with Saskia Enderby scoring the winner three minutes from time after Sarah Pearce’s equaliser.
That set up a pool decider against West champions Bournemouth, who had won all their games up till then, but Marlow caught them cold with another Enderby rebound goal, and that was enough for a 1-0 win and a place in the final against Surbiton.
The teams had each beaten the other during the regular season, but a controversially high goal inside the first minute rocked Marlow and Surbiton took full advantage with two more goals before the interval.
That turned out to be the end of the scoring, but Jackson was not disappointed.
He said: “I don’t have a problem with the outcome.
“We were emphatically the best side in Bucks and didn’t concede a goal, but Surbiton had eight county players in their side and could’ve fielded two teams that would’ve been there or thereabouts.
“They were the better side, but what we’ve achieved is absolutely fantastic. It’s pretty unbelievable.
“We’re punching well above our weight and this team can go on and have a lot more success in the coming years.
“We want to repeat this with the U10s so players who want to play at this level think Marlow is the place to be. We want to become a magnet for the best players.”