The U18 girls produced a simply stunning two days of indoor hockey to get to the National Final, eventually missing out on a historic title to the impressive Cranleigh School.
The tournament began with what would prove to be a hugely decisive win against the West Champions and former U16 Winners King’s Bruton. The game began perfectly for Framlingham with Rose Winter calmly slotting home a first time shot to take the lead. Kings drew level through a well worked penalty corner only for Framlingham to change their press and wrestle control of the match with four more impressive goals to win the game 5-2. A five hour wait for match two of the campaign against the North Champions Queen Elizabeth Cumbria and another polished indoor display saw a 5-0 win and two impressive penalty stroke saves from Coral Langridge, who would later perform heroics in the semi-final shoot out.
Day Two was to be a memorable one. It had the potential of having four matches; a big ask for any team and it began with a must win match against the hosts Bromsgrove. The first half was tough, the Midlands Runners-Up made it very clear that that Fram would have to work hard to win the game and at 1-1 with ten minutes to go the patience and quality of the hockey resulted in two penalty corner goals for Abby Gooderham to win the match and guarantee a semi-final with one game to spare. The final pool match against Cranleigh was a very cagy and slow tempo game. Both sides not wanting to exert energy or show their hand ahead of a potential final clash that evening. A very exciting final five minutes saw Molly Redgrove convert a penalty corner to reduce a 2-0 deficit but time ran out and a narrow loss meant Framlingham would face Dean Close the West Runners-Up in the semi-final. This game was to be nothing short of epic. At 3-0 down at half-time, having made two costly errors, it looked as though a medal was slipping away but the girls showed just how determined they were in the second half. With a change in tactics they completely dominated and created numerous chances with Tabby Billingham having a superb game in her new role at right back. Abby Gooderham and Molly Redgrove both scored a penalty corner to pull the score back to 3-2 and with one agonising minute remaining another penalty corner was earned and converted high into the roof of the net from Molly to level the game and take it to penalty strokes. Lottie Summers calmly converted her first and Coral Langridge saved Dean Close’s first, Abby Gooderham scored the second low into the corner only for Dean Close to score. Up stepped captain Redgrove and coolly slotted her stroke into the roof of the net leaving Coral to pull off another fine save to secure Framlingham a place in the history books and National Final for the very first time. The final was another tense game against Cranleigh who had beaten Kent College 6-0 in their semi-final. Framlingham sat deep in defence trying to hit the Surrey school on the counter-attack and the theory worked beautifully with a fine indoor move converted with a first time finish from Hannah De-Selincourt to take the lead. Cranleigh soon replied to level the game until the impressive Lottie Summers regained the lead with another fine first time shot from a counter-attack move. Cranleigh stepped up the tempo of the game and managed to gain a series of penalty corners with some fine indoor hockey. They converted three of these to win the game 4-2. Heartbreak for Framlingham but a quite exceptional two days of hockey in which the team proved that they are more than a match for the best in the Country.
The attention now moves onto the outdoor National Finals in March, where the girls aim to go one or two better than their bronze medal finish from last year.