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National ISA Boys’ Hockey Tournament at the Olympic Hockey Stadium23rd February 2017

Written by: Richard Wright

This was the second time the boys' squad have entered the ISA Festival and the opportunity to play at the Olympic Hockey stadium was eagerly anticipated

The squad met outside Airthrie at 6.30am and travelled up to the Olympic Park by minibus. Airthrie travelled further than the vast majority of schools, so their first match was scheduled for the later start of 11.00am.

The squad arrived in good time and the boys had the opportunity to take in the atmosphere as they entered the national stadium with its iconic blue astro.

A quick change in the same rooms as the Olympians of London 2012, left the team plenty of time to warm-up and prepare for the first match.

Sixteen teams had entered the festival, competing in four pools of four teams, all battling for a successful run in The Cup or The Plate.

The boys knew that with each game lasting for six minutes each way, scoring an early goal was crucial.

Morning - The Round Robins

Airthrie vs Copthill drew 0-0

Although Airthrie dominated all the attack, chances were missed and the forwards failed to score. The defence was relatively untroubled.

Rosemead vs Airthrie lost 0-1

Airthrie’s second match was drifting towards a 0-0 result when Rosemead scored from a loose ball in the final few minutes. The Airthrie attack did not use the wings sufficiently, and central players were marked closely by a strong Rosemead defence.

Airthrie vs Langley Prep lost 0-3

Feeling that the next match was their only opportunity to win through to The Cup competition, Airthrie were brought down to earth by a strong Langley side. Scores were kept at 0-0 for the first half, but the strength and size of the opposition resulted in conceding three goals in the closing stages.

At the end of the Round Robin stage it was clear that Airthrie would be competing in the afternoon matches in The Plate competition.

Afternoon - The Plate Competition

Match 1 vs Oakhurst drew 0-0

After taking stock over lunch, the team came together rested and with a renewal of confidence. There was strong link-up play from Ben Shaw and effective work in the forwards by Charlie Watkins.

This resulted in frequent attacks but, despite repeated efforts, a goal did not come and the scores ended with a 0-0 result.

Match 2 vs Crackley Hall lost 0-1

The match against Crackley Hall was very equal. Both teams were well matched. The defence had been efficient for most of the afternoon and a special mention should go to the goalkeeper, Ed Anstey. Ed was quick to dominate his area and showed how skillful he is becoming as a shot stopper.

There were strong attacks at both ends, but an unfortunate turn of events resulted in a mis-hit creeping into the Airthrie goal during the final minute of the match, resulting in a 1-0 win for Crackley Hall.

Match 3 vs The Park School won 1-0

Airthrie entered the final match, determined to give The Park strong competition as they already appeared to have won their place in the final.

This match proved to be the most satisfying. Solid performances from Oliver Brewis in defence, Ben Shaw in midfield and Charlie Watkins in attack gave the team confidence. Gradually, Airthrie began to dominate. It seemed only a matter of time before the attack would be rewarded. Early in the second half, the ball became free in the The Park’s ‘D’ and Charlie Watkins pounced to score the eventual winner.

Congratulations to every member of the squad. They came up against some skillful players and held their own very well.

At the end of a busy and exciting day, Mr Wright, Mr Lloyd and Mr Watkins congratulated the boys for giving such an extensive effort throughout a long day.

This was a big undertaking for the boys’ squad and it was an experience that these players will take with them in later years. The small squad of eight bonded together extremely well, supporting each other throughout the day.

An enjoyable time was had by all.

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