Whitgift School ends hockey season with a win in recent national tournament success.
Whitgift won through to the England Hockey Schools’ Championships this week, which took place at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. In an unprecedented week for the School, three national outdoor hockey titles were won by the U14, U16 and U18 teams.
The winning streak began with the U14s, who navigated their way through their pool without conceding a single goal – an impressive achievement against the likes of Ratcliffe, QEGS and Felsted. The national final saw Whitgift play south rivals Cranleigh, and in a hugely entertaining game, with goals from Ollie Shelton and Johnny Sunderland, Whitgift were able to claim what was to be one of three national titles. It was fitting to receive medals from England Hockey Vice President, Christopher Todd, and also, notably, Old Whitgiftian, Luke Taylor, who has recently been selected to represent Great Britain at hockey.
The U16s took center stage the following day, with three strong team performances and victories over Dean Close, Trent and Felsted, and, with no goals conceded, Whitgift came top of their pool. A stellar team performance, and goals from Josh Gravestock and Adam Bambroffe, ensured Whitgift claimed a 3-0 victory over a strong Reeds team and their second national title of the week.
Last but certainly not least, were the 1st XI. Having lost in the indoor national final in January, there was certainly added pressure, but this was to be Whitgift’s week to shine. With an unbeaten season under their belts, the team faced Queen’s College, Taunton, in the semi-final. In an exhilarating match, the Whitgiftians secured the game 7-3. The final saw Whitgift pitted against a resolute Repton side. In a pulsating game, which saw chances for both teams, Josh Coniglio drew Whitgift ahead early on, converting a penalty corner. Repton leveled the score and with 10 minutes to go were awarded a penalty flick. Lekan Ogunlana, as he has on so many previous occasions, saved the powerful flick. Minutes later, Whitgift were awarded a penalty corner which saw Captain, Josh, score his second goal of the final. In a tense last five minutes of the match, the Whitgift team defended resolutely and the final whistle saw an eruption of joy from players, staff and parents alike.
Dr Karl Stagno, Director of Whitgift Hockey, commented, “This is an amazing achievement for all the boys and staff concerned. We set out in September to create an environment where the boys could excel and, I must admit, the boys have adapted to our advice and coaching remarkably well. They have been dedicated and shown immense belief in their abilities. I am especially proud of them, not just for winning, but rather the manner in which they have won and the way they have conducted themselves throughout the season.”
Whitgift’s Director of Sport, Mr Alistair Osborne, added, “The staff and boys have all worked exceptionally hard this season. They are fine examples of how grit and determination pays off. The School is incredibly proud of their achievements.”