National title delight for teenage Hatfield inline hockey side
PUBLISHED: 14:04 22 November 2016 | UPDATED: 14:04 22 November 2016
An inline hockey team from Hatfield has been crowned national champions.
The Crusaders’ U19s, who are based at Hatfield Leisure Centre, won all their matches at the tournament in Market Drayton, Shropshire to take the crown.
Crusaders reached the final comfortably where they played the league winners of the South West Division, Chipping Norton.
With Crusaders having won their own league, it was a worthy final befitting of a National Championships and between the two strongest teams around.
The match started off at a much faster pace than the group game played between these two teams earlier in the day, which Crusaders had won 3-2.
The quality of hockey was high with Crusaders creating the better chances.
However, the Norton net minder, who is also the GB keeper, was proving difficult to beat and midway through the half, against the run of play, his side went ahead.
At half-time the score remained 1-0 and five minutes into the second half this had not changed.
Crusaders still had the majority of the possession and were creating the better chances, but could not equalise.
With 10 minutes of the second half remaining Crusaders defender Jacob Spurge rifled in a shot that finally beat the Chipping keeper and the teams were back on level terms.
Within two minutes Crusaders went ahead with a strong shot from George Rowe into the bottom left corner.
For the remainder of the match Crusaders were generally in control although they were grateful to keeper Danny Tocher for a couple of excellent saves and were relieved when the final whistle went.
Crusaders’ captain Max Spurge collected the trophy.
The U19 team will now be representing their country in the European Championships next summer and with only one player leaving the age group will be hoping to retain the National Championships next season.
Crusaders’ senior team was unable to add to their three titles from the past five years at the National Championships in Herne Bay, Kent.
They had three victories on the opening day, including an 8-1 quarter-final win against Havering Hawks.
Crusaders then beat reigning champions Chipping Norton 6-3 in the semi-final.
This set up a final with Sheffield’s Hallamshire Hornets.
Crusaders had beaten Hornets in all three of their recent national victories, but were knocked out by them in last year’s semi-final, so were expecting a tough match.
In an extremely fast-paced final, Hornets went ahead, only to be pegged back by a John Laird slap shot.
The match continued at a frantic pace with Hornets always having the edge. They went 2-1 ahead and then added two more to run out as winners.
Although disappointed, the runners up spot guarantees Crusaders a place in next year’s European Cup.