On Saturday, Knole Park played their first external fixture of 2021 in an excellent performance against the English Universities Women’s XI!
We had been trying to arrange a fixture against the English Universities Sport Women’s side for some time and had been thwarted by successive lockdowns, so this was a long-awaited game. The student side is composed of nominated elite students from universities all over the country, so has some talented and athletic players regularly playing in national league and university first teams. This was the squad’s first training day and match in fourteen months due to the impact of COVID-19, so they were very excited to travel to Tonbridge School, spend the morning training together and then play Knole Park.
Knole Park started the game convincingly with some excellent runs from Josefina and Charlotte W in midfield unlocking the EUS defence and creating some early D entries. In defence the Knole Park midfield of Josefina, Charlotte, Sasha and Martha were proactive and created some early pressure on the student’s outletting. Some early attacks from EUS were swept up calmly by fullbacks Bea and Jessica and it wasn’t long before Josefina managed to dribble skilfully through the EUS defence and Sasha released a fearsome backhand strike for our first chance.
Moritz, Isaac, Sarah and Ruth’s pressing and running was excellent and it was from a resulting midfield steal from Charlotte that led to an excellent run from Moritz down the right hand side. Moritz calmly cut in off the baseline and finishing with a great shot. The shot was well saved by the keeper but Sarah was able to pounce on the rebound and slam it onto the backboard. 1-0.
The second goal was also created by Moritz’ skilful play down the right, after picking up an excellent ball from Bea and eliminating two players on the top of the D to strike his own forehand, taking Knole Park to 2-0.
Continued pressure in the circle led Ruth to win a penalty corner on the baseline with a trademark run. A deft slip to Charlotte on the left was converted by a superb backhand strike, putting the team 3-0 up. The Knole Park team took confidence from these early minutes and were keen to continue their early success throughout the match.
The second quarter was particularly exciting, played at speed with plenty of pressing and trademark KP hockey. The fourth goal came from the sibling duo of Josefina and Moritz, as well as some skilful work from Isaac. Josefina’s unstoppable run down the middle found Isaac on the baseline, who rounded the keeper and Moritz was able to touch the ball into the goal for his second. KP’s fifth goal was a goal of true beauty! A sweeping team move starting from a 16, through Cordy to Josefina, Sasha, Isaac and then back to Josefina, who ran through to slip the ball to Ruth for her to finish accurately.
In the third quarter more pressure from EUS meant that they challenged the KP defence of Cordy, Bea, Jessica and Riley more and won some penalty corners. The first penalty corner was taken well and scored. KP learned from this and managed to cover more effectively for the next, but EUS were able to score the rebound. KP were undoubtedly feeling the pressure at 5-2 as the EUS team hit their stride and were able to outlet more. Pascale stepped into the breach to make an important 1v1 save after an excellent counterattack from EUS. The student’s third goal came from an innocuous challenge in midfield. In the confusion EUS took the free-hit quickly and an excellent run from the EUS centre midfield made it 5-3.
In the final quarter, the team regained their intensity and worked hard to challenge the EUS defence. KP were back! The team unleashed a number of shots that were well saved by the keeper. After some excellent work in the D by Sarah and Moritz we won a series of penalty corners. Trying some different PCA moves the EUS defenders were a match for all the variations. On the final whistle, the umpire awarded a final penalty corner to KP, but we were unable to convert it and the game finished 5-3.
Overall, it was a very exciting and challenging game that the (mostly!) young KP side can take a lot of confidence from. The performance, fitness and effort from everyone was superb. It was great to get external fixtures back with a bang and to host the English Universities team in their first fixture in over a year. We wish them luck for their upcoming Home Nations tournament in the summer and we look forward to welcoming the side back next season for a fixture against our Women’s 1s team.
Krispy Kreme’s afterwards to celebrate double goal scorer Moritz’ 13th birthday were the icing on the doughnut! Happy Birthday Moritz!