Shenfield High girls enjoy a great run to national finals
PUBLISHED: 10:12 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:12 27 March 2020
Shenfield High under-12 girls have enjoyed a memorable first season at the school after finishing unbeaten in all competitions.
Their first trophy success came in the Mid-Essex round of the ESFA National 5-a-side Cup, which led to them representing the district in the South East England finals.
After a host of close games, and a tense 2-1 semi-final win, they saved their best performance until last to beat Woodlands, from Basildon, 4-0 as Marcie O’Meara and Jessica Winstone-Adair netted and Linda Murati made three key saves.
That booked their place in the national finals in Birmingham, where they competed against seven other regional champions.
And they flew out of the blocks with three quick first-half goals against Cambourne (Cornwall), with keepers Murati and Katie Bailey preserving the lead as their rivals looked to reply before a last-minute breakaway goal sealed a 4-0 win.
The second game was closer, but Winstone-Adair and O’Meara netted twice each in the second half to secure a 5-1 victory.
And they led 3-0 at half-time in their last group game against St James Catholic School, from Stockport, only for their rivals to hit back and level with a minute to go.
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O’Meara came to the rescue in the closing seconds, completing her hat-trick and sealing another win which set up a semi-final with St Gregory’s.
After falling behind, Shenfield saw Winstone-Adair force extra tie with a last-minute equaliser, with two excellent strikes from Lucy Allison sending them into the final.
The original plan was for the match to be played at Wembley Stadium before a Euro 2020 match, but with those finals in doubt – and eventually postponed – they met St Benedicts in Birmingham.
Captain Winstone-Adair struck first with her eighth goal of the tournament, but Shenfield had to reorganise after she picked up an injury and St Benedicts capitalised to score twice late on to claim the title.
Head of PE and team manager Garry Sapsford said: “It has been an unforgettable journey for our girls. The experience of playing under such competitive pressure will serve them very well for future competitive action.
“The memories they have of so many excellent performances and being the second best team from over 400 schools that originally entered will give them lots of confidence moving forwards.
“We are certainly very proud of each of the girls, who have gone further in this particular competition than any other Shenfield team in the history of the school.”
The squad are also still in the last 16 of the national 9-a-side competition, having battled through six rounds, and were due to play Essex rivals Fitzwimarc School from Rayleigh before schools were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Shenfield’s under-13 boys and under-14 girls have also reached their respective finals, which were scheduled to be played after the Easter holidays.
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