U15 Wildcats

If your daughter is interested in getting involved in one of our girls teams, please contact Chris Allen on cma_5963@yahoo.co.uk

Match Report - Saturday June 22nd, Paddock Wood Fiesta

The Wildcats travelled to Paddock Wood on a hot sunny afternoon to take on the challenge of the u15 ladies fiesta. A part of the challenge would be that the squad comprised 3 x u13s, 5 x u14s, and no u15s, so certainly an age and size disadvantage, which they would have to make up for with talent and effort and determination.

The first game is often crucial in a fiesta campaign, because in a 10 minute format it's possible to dominate and not score, or, worse, make one mistake that there is no time to redeem. Paddock Wood, the hosts were the first opponents, and the first half was a classic case of domination without goals. Abi O might have grabbed the lead on three occasions, so might Maisie or Amy - defensively Sophie was untroubled, protected by Hanna, Amelia B and Jmac. But the game ticked on and the sideline anxiety grew. Macie added some good width in the second half, and finally, with a small deflection, Maisie grabbed the lead. A 1-0 lead made for the perfect start.

In game number two versus the Anchorian Angels it was Amy who delivered the opening goal and things were looking very good. Maisie hit the post with a chance that would have ended the game, but with a minute to go a long Anchorian clearance rolled up the right wing. Sophie came to clear but hesitated and in that moment a striker snuck in and squared the ball, which Hannah was unlucky to see deflect into her own net of her outstretched leg. It was too late to respond, and in a flash 6 points in the bag, and a perfect start, had turned into 4. 

This was compounded in the next match by a 0-0 draw versus Lewes. Each of Abi O, Maisie and Amy created a chance for themselves to take a first half lead, after which the Wildcats dodged a bullet when Lewes hit the post. Maisie hit the bar in the second half, and for the second game in a row it was a draw that could have been a win. Not the end of the world, but it made the upcoming mountain a lot steeper to climb.

Up next were Maidstone Utd, who had won all their games and clearly strong. This game was much like the previous two, as The Langton side spent most of the game threatening to score, but not quite succeeding. Abi came close, then Amy, and then Maisie twice, but late in the game a Maidstone free kick squirmed across the goal and their striker got to the rebound first. So, for the third game in a row it was hard to criticise the performance but easy to be disappointed with the result.

Sometimes that is how it goes in fiestas. You go home wondering how it didnt quite work out. Paddock Wood could eliminate the Wildcats if they won their final game, but instead lost heavily. This kept the door open. The last game was a 'must-win' against Ifield. And....not for the first time the girls battered their opponents' goal but could not score. Some great goalkeeping added to the sense that it was not meant to be. Abi O was injured after going bravely after a goalscoring chance, and time ticked away. Finally Maisie was rewarded for all her efforts and scored. Crucially she iced the cake with a second goal soon after. The Wildcats had 8 points, and a positive goal difference. Anchorians would need to beat the hitherto unbeaten Maidstone by 2 goals to force a penalty-shoot-out playoff. They battled hard but drew 0-0 and the Wildcats, had, despite all the fustrations, found their way to the semi-finals. 

The other half of Maidstone had won their group, which set up a high class contest. As in the group stages on the balance of play the Langton girls were looking most likely to score, but the attacking threat from Maidstone was apparent. Once Sophie had to deal with it, and once Hannah made a crucial tackle. In this game the Cats were set up more defensively with Amelia B joining Hannah, and their heading ability dealt with most of the threat. Sophie's contribution in this game grew and grew. Her distribution to Maisie kept setting up good attacks, and after a deflected shot she made an awesome save to keep the scores level. At full time it was 0-0. Next up was a period of 'golden goal' but still no-one could put the game to bed and so it was on to penalties.

A large part of penalty shoot outs is attitude and belief. The girls were asked to be brave, be focused, and to trust in their skills. Maisie, who had led from the front was asked to set the tone, which she did (despite taking her penalty for a yard too far back). Sophie very nearly saved the first Maidstone penalty, before Amy scored hers, and the next Maidstone kick went high over the bar. This gave Sophie the chance to step up and win the shoot-out but her kick was saved, and the next Maidstone girl levelled the scores, 2-2. Sudden death.....Hannah scored, they equalised to stay alive, Amelia scored, they equalised. Then Macie saw her kick saved and it was match point to Maidstone, but the turn of their goalkeeper to take a kick. Sophie saved it to keep the Cats alive (though it wasnt clear how many of their 9 lives they had used up!). 4-4 and back to the top of the order.....Maisie scored again, Amy scored again, but so did Maidstone. Sophie's turn now, with all the nerves that come with having missed the first time around. She delivered. Maidstone equalised, Hannah made it 8-7, Maidstone scored, 8-8. Amelia made it 9-8 and finally Maidstone cracked and shot wide. Incredible. It's hard to think of a penalty shoot out that goes 8 kicks deep into sudden death, and to score 9/11 under such pressure was awesome.

Having climbed that mountain the final beckoned, against Lewes Black, who had defeated the other Maidstone side in their semi final. When you have survived an epic shoot-out you start to feel indestructible, and the confidence was flowing. Amy skimmed a brilliant shot millimetres over the bar, and Maisie was tormenting Lewes defenders with fast feet and aggressive running. Jmac was working her socks off as she had all day, whilst Amelia and Hannah locked down the defence. And then....the moment: Maisie spun her defender and broke down the left, cut inside and passed the ball in off the far post. An utterly brilliant goal, when it was most needed, in the final. 

The lead taken it was time to fight to keep it. Abi O came on, despite still hurting and made a crucial last ditch block, whilst Hannah and Amelia stood strong. The final whistle came, and the girls were cup-final winners. All the hurdles had been cleared. When it really mattered they had delivered. Lewes were very sporting in defeat - their coach shook hands and asked for a pre-season friendly...

Winning isn't everything, but it is a good habit to get into. The girls will gain in terms of confidence, team-bonding and the lessons that come with doing things the hard way but persevering. Macie collected the trophy, with big smiles all round. Langton Green is on the map  :)