Match Report
Epsom College Girls-U14A vs  Nationals
On: Sunday, 18 Nov 2018
Venue: Away

WON 7-3 v St John's
Lost 3-10 v Notre Dame
Lost 5-8 v Lingfield
Lost 0-11 v St Catherine's
Lost 5-8 v Surbiton High
Lost 6-10 v Putney High

Epsom U14s can sleep well knowing that they really challenged the top two teams at the National Schools Tournament at the new East Grinstead venue.
With a slightly depleted squad of 8, the girls attacked the tournament with determination and focus, despite a limited warm up in the car park. Each player knew the specific role they had to take on, and, after a nervous first 2 minutes against St Johns, the team found their stride. Once they had adapted to the slippery conditions on court, the girls played an intelligent game, establishing clear patterns of play and making good use of their options. Superb defence at the back from Delphine Ayitey-Hammond (Rv) filled the team with confidence, and shooters Amelia Thomson (Wh) and Ella Parson (Rv) played their part in attack with great accuracy to give Epsom a fantastic first round win 7-3.
Notre Dame next and they made life tough for Epsom's attacking players, cutting their space and dictating play. Strength at the back was once again superb, though and the girls were only trailing 2-3 at half time. Notre Dame turned over the first centre pass to go 4-2 up when unfortunately Delphine injured her ankle and, despite a stoic job at Goal Keeper by Liz Lowndes (M), who plays Wing Attack, Epsom lost their focus and went down 3-10.
With Delphine sidelined, the team readjusted to a new line up against Lingfield, Lily Taylor-Fitzgibbon (Rv) taking strong control of the defensive four. She led by example with outstanding defensive as well as attacking play, and good communication. Sophie Norman (Wh) worked tirelessly in centre court and the team pulled themselves back into contention only to lose 5-8 in the final two minutes, but gaining a valuable point in the process.
Sophie was unfortunately sidelined for the next match against St Catherine's, but luckily Delphine stepped up and returned to the court heavily strapped. Anouska Powell (W) took on the unfamiliar centre position and gave 100% to an extremely tough 14 minutes, with Liz Lowndes taking the Wing Attack bib and finding her confidence. However a slick St Cats team put on a fantastic centre court zone which completely foxed Epsom's girls, who, not for the want of trying, suffered a frustrating 0-11 loss.
With two matches to play, the girls were doubting their ability and confidence was low. However they regrouped, Sophie made it back into the centre role temporarily, and the girls really showed their true Epsom fighting spirit. Surbiton and Putney were the final two matches. The team was fearless and tenacious, Delphine, Furaha Wasunna (W) and Lily combining beautifully to create many turnovers, and the centre court pairings of Sophie, Liz and Anouska linked fantastically, working so hard to lose their defenders. Ella and Amelia switched roles in the shooting D and shot superbly under great pressure and physical presence. Epsom were within one goal of Surbiton at 5-6, before finally succumbing to a 5-8 loss in the last two minutes, and likewise with Putney, losing eventually 6-10. Putney and Surbiton won the group on equal points, with Surbiton going through to qualify for the regional finals, a team that Epsom were definitely within touching distance of.
All in all, a valuable and informative team experience, and a superb performance from a squad of whom Epsom should be extremely proud. Special mention to Liz Lowndes, new to the squad, who played three different positions.

Players of the Tournament: Lily Taylor-Fitzgibbon (Rv) and Delphine Ayitey-Hammond (Rv)