After a little confusion arriving at Queenswood School, Ladies 2s eventually found the Harpenden team, on a sunny but breezy afternoon for a 3:45pm pushback.
Sadly there was no promotion glory to be had for our Ladies; but no pressure to force a win for vital points, and no fear of demotion either.
The final line up -
Emma ‘out of a gun’ Walker
Charlie ‘hassle the goalkeeper’ Nash
Hannah ‘catch me if you can’ Whitby
Deb ‘the wall’ Walker
Lauren ‘cool as cucumber’ Ware
Mari ‘I can play one handed’ Thomas
Ellie ‘where’s the ball’ Cella
Ann ‘you can’t get past me’ Baxter
Zoe ‘the shadow’ Kenney
Babs ‘lord of the reserve stick’ Lisgarten
Annamarie ‘fire the cannon’ Wagner
Nat ‘get out of my D’ Kimble
The pre-match team talk was sweet and short...go out and play your hockey.
Berko were heady with the realisation that this was the very last time that they would play together in the league this season. With zero pressure on their shoulders, their relief was evident in play.
Harpenden had won the coin toss, taking first push back. Berko were hard and fast in their attack to the ball. Gaining control of the game, the ball was sent on to on to Hannah, who was quick off the mark, forcing her way down the right hand-side. Stepping up a gear she zoomed past her defender with ease.
Charlie was hoping to receive the ball on the outside of the 'D' but unaware of her position on the pitch, falling over not only herself but her opposing player as well. Not to be out done, Mari came off worse from a tackle . Resulting in her laid on the Astro, blood everywhere! Reluctant to get back up on her feet.
A rallying half time talk from Captain 'busted leg' Bunni, affirmed that regardless of the result there was no doubting the phenomenal level of hockey being played. The Berko side were having such a good time that they were a little too relaxed, but they went in to the second half determined to show their competitive edge and to be a little less nice.
Nat warded off strong attempts from the Harpenden attacks, maintaining a clean sheet until Ann made her campaign to be top goal scorer...and she did score! Unfortunately for Berko it was in their own goal. Ann did come off worse for wear shortly after when an opposing player wrapped her stick around the back of Ann’s leg - OUCH!
Consistently strong triangle passing play between Zoe, Deb and Lauren left Harpenden breathless yo-yo-ing between them in a vain attempt to turnover the ball.
Lauren and Deb were instrumental in laying balls off to the forwards pulling wide, making full use of the pitch. Zoe stuck like glue to her opposing player, effectively taking her out of the game.
The previous encounter was a goal fest against Harpenden, but on home turf, Berko weren't going to be given an easy timel. Talk of mixing up the positions was put on the back burner as Harpenden didn't give an inch willingly.
Ellie must have been feeling the pressure of being filmed for her GCSE course, because she was having some issues with getting her feet out of the way. The ball had hit her foot just inside the attacking 25 and then 5 seconds later she passing it from left foot to right foot. She could be forgiven having come from playing football prior to hockey - we may rename her Twinkle Toes.
Charlie had a superb shot on goal, the goalie came flying out and logged, Berko just couldn't get round her. Receiving the ball from a Harpenden hit out, Emma did what she does best driving the ball towards the 'D' and firing in a brilliant cross ball. A little too much power and speed on it, even for our own speedster Hannah to get on the end of.
Babs had had enough late in the second half, she was going to show those forwards how it's done. Receiving the ball deep in our own half she drove up the right and sent the ball into the 'D'. Hastily realising going to high up the pitch gives her nosebleeds and she can't breath up there. Returning to the comfort of the defending half, she was back to normal.
Both Charlie and Mari had numerous shots on goal from penalty corners and in game play. Sadly it was their day with balls going wide and the keeper firmly keeping them out.
Berko were left scratching the heads, had the goals shrunk? Were they now moving targets? Was it the encroaching shadow sneaking it was across the pitch, affecting their ability to find the backboard?
As the minutes were dying off to the final whistle Annamarie - after some fantastic tackles earlier in the match - was ready for home and smashed the ball as hard as she possibly could off the sideline, from our free hit.
A relegated Harpenden earned their win, in an exciting end to end battle. Berko left the pitch with morale at its peak, all smiles and absolutely buzzing after such a fun game!
As this season progressed, there were clear runaway leaders dominating at top. Berko sit comfortably mid table 17 points ahead of the next team in the table.
After close to tears moments, belly aching laughter, photo poses and present giving. Ladies 2 decided against voting a MOM (they defaulted to unanimously voting for Captain Bunni - instead of having to make the hard decision of actually picking someone), and in truth everyone played so well that they all deserved the title. So this week's MOM goes to the entire team for a truly sterling effort and showing just what playing hockey is all about.