Upminster women impress indoors
PUBLISHED: 08:35 08 December 2016 | UPDATED: 08:35 08 December 2016
Hockey team go close to National finals
Upminster’s women defied the odds at the Regional Indoor finals at the University of East Anglia to just miss out on a place at the National League.
Ranked as the lowest seeds in the competition, they faced Norwich Dragons in their opening match and took an early lead.
Captain Megan Miller, Amy Blackwell, Bella Boyle and Robyn Hodges combined well in the forward line as the two sides traded goals, with Upminster netting a late winner in a 6-5 success.
Buoyed by that triumph, the Upminster team ran out 4-1 winners over local rivals Old Loughts, after superb defensinve performances from Niamh Robeson, Lauren Slater, Jemma O’Reilly and keeper Susie Beck.
Jemma Cresswell, Blackwell and Miller linked up well in attack as well, but National League outfit Cambridge City proved too strong in the final match of day one and ran out 9-2 winners, despite goals from Blackwell and Boyle.
Upminster began day two in positive fashion, showing determination and passion in a fantastic team performance on the way to a 4-2 win over Maidstone.
Blackwell helped herself to a hat-trick in the win, while joint players of the tournament Slater and Hodges remained calm and collected throughout, distributing the ball well from the back line and making crucial tackles to deny Maidstone.
Victory left Upminster in with a chance of securing second place overall, good enough to qualify for the Nationals, as they took on West Herts in their last fixture.
O’Reilly, Hodges, Slater and Miller all produced outstanding efforts against the National League club, with Beck making a string of saves.
But despite a late tactical decision from coach Dave Robeson to remove their keeper for an extra outfield player, Upminster came up short in a 7-4 loss and had to settle for a respectable third place, surpassing all expectations.
Upminster were also praised by umpires and officials for their team spirit and sportsmanship and captain Miller said: “From going into the tournament as the lowest-ranked team, I couldn’t be prouder of the team in their efforts to gain promotion to the Indoor National League.
“We’ve learnt an awful lot and it has shown even the big clubs that we are team to watch in the future.
“A special thank you to MCO Developments for sponsoring the team this year. Their support made sure we had the best possible chance to succeed at the tournament.”