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Trent U16 boys capped an excellent season by winning the trophy at the National Schools Hockey Finals held at Cannock on 1st and 2nd May. This is a terrific achievement for a fine team, with Trent having only won this trophy twice before (in 1992 and 2007), only reaching the final on one other occasion in 2010, the same year that Trent U16 girls became champions for the only time so far. The competition was fierce as usual, with many twists and turns, but the overall quality and spirit of the Trent team enabled the boys to hold on to win.
The tournament involved two groups each with four teams playing a league, but only the winners would go through to the final. Trent’s first match was against Kings Bruton and things did not start well. Kings pressed the Trent defence hard and took the lead in the second minute. The pressure continued, but Trent managed to mount some attacks of their own, winning a penalty corner which was slammed into the net by Alex Bunz. It seemed that Trent would go on to win the match from there, but Kings continued to play well and took the lead again late in the second half. Desperate attacks from Trent came to nothing until, with just 12 seconds left on the clock, Bunz fired a hopeful pass into the circle where Will Doleman managed to get a slight deflection to equalise. 2-2! Time would show just how vital that goal was as Kings Bruton won both their remaining matches and would themselves have qualified for the final. As it was, goal difference would become all important.
After the relief of the late equalizer, the boys really focused on the next match against RGS Guildford, a team containing some very skilful players. From the outset, the energy levels were better and Trent won a number of penalty corners. Alex Bunz was on great form, scoring four times in the match to go with two goals from Sam Apoola and a smart finish by Connor Marshall. A dominant lead of 5-1 was established by half time and the final score was 7-1. This was a brilliant result given the tight nature of the group. The team could recover that evening and focus again on the final group match knowing that their progress was probably in their own hands.
Friday morning’s game against Kings Chester was a rather nervous affair. It was important that Trent matched or bettered anything that Kings Bruton managed in their game, but after taking some time to get into the game, Trent eventually won 4-1, with goals from Will Doleman (2), Alex Bunz and James Benstead. The boys had qualified for the final on superior goal difference where they would play the winners of the other group, and almost inevitably it turned out yet again to be Repton. Having played Repton 3 times already in the whole competition, it was amazing that the two finalists should both come from Derbyshire. Yet another tense, close battle was certain to determine the 2014 champions.
As expected, Repton made a strong start and were awarded a couple of early penalty corners which were desperately defended, first by a magnificent save by goalkeeper Tom Hancock, then by a goal line save from Alex Bunz. Having weathered this storm, Trent began to push back harder and midway through the first half took the lead, once again from a powerful Alex Bunz penalty corner drag. 1-0 at half time. The second half continued to be hard fought with chances at both ends, and fantastic efforts from both teams so that no-one could relax. Thankfully the clock counted down to the final whistle leaving Trent as winners and National Champions for 2014. There was great joy at winning the title and defeating our closest rivals to do so.
Congratulations to the boys in the team, and to those who had played a part in earlier rounds but were unable to play in the finals. Their determination, commitment and performances have earned the success and brought great credit to Trent College.
Squad: Sam Apoola (capt), Tom Hancock (GK), Ossie Chmiel (GK), Max Sowter, Alex Bunz, Josh Naylor, George Major, James Benstead, Constantin Schroder, Connor Marshall, Tom Naylor, Josh Pavis, Jacob Bashir, Will Doleman, Harvey Doleman.
Coaches: Mark Wadsley, Peter Shuttleworth, Chris Proctor.