The Crescent School’s U11 boys’ hockey team have qualified for the IAPS (Independent Association of Preparatory Schools) U11 Boys’ National Hockey Finals for the second year running.

The boys secured their place in the national final after a challenging series of matches at the regional finals on Friday 2 February. The Crescent team had travelled the short distance to Rugby School to take on the best hockey teams from the Midlands and Northern areas.

Matt Phillips, Head of PE and Games, commented, “Being a small school, with no astro of our own, we are always up against it when playing the much bigger schools. However, with determination, belief and a strong work ethic we were hoping for a repeat last year’s success.”

After a steady start with a draw against Altrincham Prep and wins against St Olave’s and Fairfield School, the boys topped the group to go through to the quarter finals. That match against St Andrew's proved to be a much tougher test. Dylan Hopkins, Marco Rodriguez Hernandez and Oliver Bell defended resiliently and the game finished with a score of 0-0 and the prospect of penalty shuffles. Successful shuffles were a key part of Crescent’s progression last year and they retained Chris Gibson as the heroic goalkeeper of the previous campaign. This time both keepers seemed unbeatable as shuffle after shuffle was shut out. Oliver Bell almost won it with an audacious chip but finally Fin Calder, the most experienced shuffle taker, scored to claim the win.

The semi-final was against Foremarke Hall who had been in excellent form. They outplayed Crescent, who seemed mentally exhausted after their penalty shuffle exertions, to win 3-0. The team faced Altrincham Prep in the 3rd/4th playoff, Altrincham took an early lead but Crescent hit back strongly and looked as though they might level it up. Matthew Thomas and George Bell, who had grown over the tournament, looked dangerous with their skills, however, Altrincham held on to take third place.

Having come fourth, Crescent qualify for the national finals for the second year in a row. An amazing achievement for a small school especially when half of the team are playing up a year or even two. The Nationals take place next week on Wednesday 21 March at Tonbridge School in Kent. The team have been training hard and practising those crucial penalties in anticipation of another momentous day.

Congratulations to all our hockey heroes who come from Years 4, 5 and 6: George Bell, Oliver Bell, Matthew Browne, Fin Calder, Chris Gibson, Dylan Hopkins, Marco Rodriguez Hernandez and Matthew Thomas.