Under 8s make the most of the opportunity to play

Under 8s Trojans Tournament – Sunday 14th March

What a strange second half to the season its been.  Two tournaments cancelled due to the weather, the final one cancelled due to Covid-19 and a last minute relocation from Trojans to Southampton for the only one that did go-ahead.  But at least they got to play and show what they had learnt since the previous one in early December.  The squad all showed vast improvements and even writing this 2 weeks late, there are many moments that stick in the memory.

We started strongly against Winchester 2 with nearly all the play near their goal.  This domination led us all to believe that we’d score lots of goals, but Winchester were excellent in front of their own goal and kept many shots out.  Hamish should have scored, but chose to try a reverse stick shot which was saved before finally Noah broke the deadlock with some excellent footwork giving him the chance to finish strongly.  Winchester were improving all the time and started to get Laurence in defence involved.  He was strong in the tackle and then looked up before passing to his teammates, providing  opportunities for Jake and Gulliver to attack.  There was some confusion at the final whistle as Winchester scored a goal, but it was after the hooter had gone.  Perhaps a lucky 1-0 win in a game that we could have done better.

The next game was against Bournemouth 1.  Hamish learnt from his mistakes in the first game and scored a hat-trick to give the team a big 3-0 win.  He received some great passes from his teammates to enable him to show his full range of skills to wriggle through the opposition.  It was then Noah’s turn to score his usual hat-trick in the next game against Salisbury.  On one occasion his turn, acceleration and skills to get past the opposition was amazing to see.

The girls decided to get in on the goal-scoring action against New Forest 2, having been passing machines in the first 3 games.  Cherry, who had been restricted to defence, stepped into midfield.  With the ball seemingly glued to the end of her stick, she showed great skill to run past 3 defenders before tapping in the goal with her reverse stick – 1-0.  Grace then showed off her improved skills and footwork to go past their defence to score our second goal and make the final score 2-0.

We then played Trojans 1 who relied on one individual to score 3 goals, as we were not sharp enough to realise that he was going to run everything himself and we seemed slightly shocked.  However we got better during the game and had a few attacks of our own.  One of these resulted in Hamish scoring a good goal from the far right of the pitch.  Jake, in particular, was making stronger tackles to help our cause whilst Laurence engaged in a fully committed tussle against their best player.  He tackled strongly and stopped a further goal by chasing back hard to the goal-line which ended up with both players on the floor.  The match ended 1-3 to Trojans.

What turned into our final match of the season was against Andover 2.  They have proved to be a tough team to play against, particularly after Trojans.  This was a situation repeated from the Romsey tournament, pre-Christmas.  They tackled strongly and passed quickly which put our defence under pressure.  Many players made great efforts in running back to make tackles which was great to see in the 6th game.  Olivia showed big improvements in her tackling and passing.  And it was one of these passes to Noah that gave him the opportunity to score our only goal of the game.  Although Olivia came close to scoring too.  Unfortunately they scored 3, so we lost 1-3.

As a coach, it was a great pleasure to see the improvements that all players have made during the season, but frustrating that we lost 3 of the tournaments which stopped them making more progress.  In addition to the moments above,  Gulliver was much more involved during his games which was great to see.  Nearly all these players will be with the Under 10s next season so we wish them well and look forward to seeing their progress.  The future of the U8s is youth – Elijah and Rory both made brief cameos throughout this tournament and will get to play a lot more next year.