U19 Netball Team wins the National Schools Championship!
Beaconsfield High School’s U19 netball team was this weekend crowned National Schools Champion after a gruelling tournament. After winning both the County and Regional rounds to qualify in the top 18 schools in the country, Beaconsfield High School was the team to beat and, with the memory of a one-goal-loss against the Grammar School at Leeds the season before, the pressure was on for the students.
The winning team included Katie Bowen, Anya Wood, Millie Patrick, Katarina Short, Josie Kucera, Alex Taal, Sadie Thomas, Bea Overturf, Natalya Short, Lauren Torley and Amber Bains.
Mrs Rachel Smith, Headteacher, comments: “What a remarkable achievement for our wonderfully talented students. I’m so very proud of their efforts and those of our PE staff, who have all committed themselves wholeheartedly and created incredible success not only for themselves but for the school. It is this kind of event that further proves the importance of maintaining the very best standards of sport in school, and we continue to be grateful for our excellent department.”
Commentary by Mrs Stella Sanders, Head of Year 12 and PE Teacher:
We had 8 games in our pool totalling almost two hours of full speed, high intensity and, at times, full contact top level netball. We won against Compton 10 – 8 and Millfield 7 – 5 in our first two games, leaving staff and parents gasping for oxygen at times! The team settled, composed and won the next two games a little more comfortably, 20 – 2 against Dame Allan’s and Guilford High 15 – 8. We then had a little break before facing our toughest opponents Queen Ethelburga’s, who also hadn’t lost a game and were winning with some big goal margins. The play went with centre pass and was 5-5 at half time, 11 – 11 with 12 seconds to go and they scored to win 12 – 11. Our girls were gutted but had come up against a formidable opponent. An inspirational team talk from Coach Kat Ratnapala and some time to reflect allowed reset to follow. The team dug deep, showed their resilience and self-belief and went on court to the Rocky theme tune, winning the next two games 15 -6 against Bishop Vesey’s Grammar and 14 – 6 against Oakham.
In the other pool, three schools were potentially on the same points. Holy Cross College, previous champions Barking Abbey and defending champions GSAL showed how incredibly high the standard was this year. They were all fighting to be in the top two to qualify for the semi-finals and, if they drew on points, goal average would decide so they were trying to score as many goals as possible and prevent the opposition scoring.
We had played 7 games and lost one, scoring a point for losing so narrowly and topped the group by this one point. Queen Ethelburga’s had a game in hand so if they beat Compton they would win the group and we would draw on points with Compton, and goal average would decide. If Compton beat Queen Ethelburga’s it would be a 3 way draw and again depend on goal average. At this point Compton led on goal average, we were second. It was insanely close – we didn’t tell the girls!
So it was all to play for in the last game; Compton and Queen Ethelburga’s were fighting it out on the next court, we were nervously trying to watch their score line and support our girls to score as many goals as they could to ensure our goal average stayed second. Compton and SE finished 4-4 at half time meaning if we didn’t win we were out – the tension for the coaching team and parents was difficult to cover up but the girls calmly did their job and beat St Albans High School 15 – 3. Queen Ethelburga’s narrowly beat Compton and Barking Abbey drew with Holy Cross putting defending champions GSAL out on goal difference.
The semi-finals were incredible, The Beaconsfield High School Girls stepped up and played, at times, text book netball under huge pressure against very strong and physical opponents to win 9-7. Queen Ethelburga’s just pipped Barking Abbey in another close fought game. Barking Abbey went on to beat Holy Cross to win the Bronze and we faced QE for the second time.
It started badly and suddenly we were 0-3 down – in a 7 minute half there is no time for mistakes so it looked gloomy. Suddenly, the Beaconsfield High School team started believing they could actually do it – they fought back piece by piece, some crucial goals and interceptions rattled QE whose clinical, superb netball style started to wobble. We drew even, they fought back then we dug deeper and the team were on fire, beginning to control the game. We took the lead and with 1 minute to go we just had to stop them scoring and keep possession – we won 11–6! It was an amazing game and the tearful celebrations showed the relief for parents, players and coaches. The opposition congratulated us on a great result and we had a joint team photo.
It was a particularly successful day for Coach Kat Ratnapala, who not only coached this school squad to be the best school team in the country but enjoyed a victory with the super league team, which she also coaches!
Head Coach: Kat Ratnapala
Assistant Coaches: Sam Perry and Francesca Wells
Teachers: Miss Priestley and Mrs Sanders