DOWNSEND School's U11 girls' hockey team have been crowned Surrey champions.
Held at Cranleigh School, the Leatherhead school were drawn in the so-called 'pool of death', with only two schools qualifying for the next stage.
Downsend's first match was against St George's College, who are the current National Prep School finalists. The squad soaked up the pressure and managed to hold St George's to a credible 0-0 draw.
That gave the team confidence as they entered their next game, which was against the City of London Freemen's School's B team, who struggled to contain the Downsend forwards.
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Attacking relentlessly, they secured an 8-0 win, with six of the goals being scored by Taylor Weber. Emily Roe and Flora Phillips got the other two.
The following match against Danes Hill, who are the National Prep School Champions, was most definitely going to be the toughest. The defensive pairing of Lara Watson and Anna Brophy was solid, with Stephanie Weber and Phillips running their socks off in midfield.
Maya Yien finished superbly to put Downsend ahead and then the squad defended their lead in numbers to end with a 1-0 victory.
Still reeling from their success, Downsend drew 1-1 against Hoebridge, with a goal disallowed in the opening minutes. This brought the squad to their last pool match against Bishopsgates School, who they beat 2-0.
With other results going in their favour, Downsend qualified as group winners and were drawn against Cranleigh Prep, last year's winners, in the semi-final.
A well contested game with both sides playing impressive hockey, Downsend were first to score, with an outside strike from Stephanie Weber. Despite all their best efforts, Cranleigh equalised and, as the final whistle blew, a draw meant that the game went to penalty strokes.
Three players were selected, and after the first round of strokes, the scores were still even, so it went to sudden death.
Freya Scarry, Downsend's goalkeeper, showed no nerves to save the Cranleigh effort, and Taylor Weber stepped up to score and give her team a spot in the final against Danes Hill.
The final was played in a great spirit, with all the players providing end to end entertainment. The game could have gone either way several times, but in the closing minutes, Downsend were awarded a short corner and all the lunchtime practices paid off with Taylor Weber, their top goalscorer, hitting the ball sweetly to score at the near post. Downsend then held on for a nail-biting finish to be crowned Surrey U11 hockey champions.