On Thursday 11th February, the National ISA Junior Boys Hockey Championships took place at Lee Valley Hockey Centre, ISA’s second Olympic venue. 26 teams travelled from near and far to play at the same venue as the European Championships and the London Olympics so it’s safe to say the opportunity was invaluable for the children and the atmosphere was buzzing.
After a warm-up, the teams began at 10.30am and played straight through until lunch time at 1.30. From the start of play, the standard of hockey was extremely high from all the schools involved whether big or small. Early performances in the Under 13s competition from Lingfield Notre Dame set them up as one of the favourites and in the Under 11s tournament, Oakfield Prep Maroons won all four of their groups matches to suggest they could go all the way and win the Cup. There were also exciting matches throughout the day including a nail-biting 0-0 draw between Stafford Prep and Ballard Manor which earned the former the point they needed to qualify for the Cup stages.
At lunch time the teams were separated in to two competitions with the top two qualifying for the Cup stages and the bottom two moving to the plate tournament. In the Under 11s Cup, teams battled bravely in attempt to qualify for the final. Eventually Stafford Prep and Weston Green showed the most grit and determination, finishing top of their respective Pools to reach the final. The U13s Cup proved a tight affair with three teams finishing on two points meaning a penalty shuffle would decide their fate. Red House eventually edged LVS Ascot to reach the final where they would face Lingfield Notre Dame who had continued their run of good form.
The plate competitions also produced an exhilarating level of hockey matches. In the Under 13s competition King Alfred and St Edward’s flew through their pools to reach the final where yet another closely fought match was decided by a penalty shuffle. King Alfred were eventual victors winning in sudden death. The Under 11s plate moved straight into a knockout competition with the final being competed between the consistent Oakfield Whites and resolute Oakhyrst Grange, the latter of which were triumphant.
Finally, reaching the end of a long but successful day and, as the sun began to set (creating a beautiful backdrop), the two finals got underway. In the under 13s final, there was nothing to separate Lingfield and Red House until a late goal secured the National Title for the Stockton-on-Tees School. Congratulations to Red House for becoming the first ISA Under 13 National Champions!
The Under 11s Final proved an even tighter affair and both teams were equal in all departments. It was a harsh way to separate two teams who had battled so hard, but the match went to a final penalty shuffle. With everyone watching, Stafford Prep clinched victory 1-0 and became the first ever ISA Under 11s National Champions! Congratulations must also go to LVS Ascot and Oakfield Maroons for finishing 3rd in the Under 13s and Under 11 competitions.
Thank you to everyone involved for creating an outstanding day of hockey. We hope to see you there next year!