Kingsbridge & Salcombe Hockey Club recently took time to reflect on their past years matches after a long league run, recognising the outstanding players of the season and the teams achievements as a whole at their end of season awards evening.
Finishing fourth in the newly restructured league and holding their own with victories over the top teams during the season the Cougars were unlucky not to secure third place, which was decided on the last game of the season.
Looking at the stats KS came away with the second best defensive record in the league, a testament to the quality of play consistently shown by backs Fi Wadey, Claire Jones and Gemma Harvey and the impressive debut of new keeper Hayley Russell.
Defensive keystone Lou Read moved up to the centre half position mid-season, her drive and control bringing a renewed energy to the Cougars formation and earning her the ‘Players Player’ award voted for on the awards evening and re-confirmed at training the following week to make sure she remembered!
KS began the season slowly with a defeat to Ottery Crickets before coming on form with a 6-1 demolition of Dawlish as Heather-Jo Webber, returned from injury, set the goal scoring pace. A narrow defeat to Isca followed by a good win against Newton Abbot set the Cougars up to deliver their finest performance of the season against eventual league winners Okehampton.
In a hotly contested game the Cougars played out of their skins to come back from 4-2 down and win the game 6-5. A brace of goals from Captain Helen Symons added to her season tally and saw her retain the Top Goalscorer trophy for the third year running.
The Cougars followed up with 3-0 victory against local rivals Dart which saw ‘Junior Player of the Year’ Emily Read pick up a unanimous Player of the Match vote for her outstanding performance. KS then closed out the first half of the league season by thrashing ECVH 5-0 to come into the Christmas break second in the league with ‘Most Improved Player of the Year’ Abi Bell on fine form with a great hat-trick and Player of the Match award.
One game remained before Christmas which saw the Cougars continue their dominant form in the Devon Trophy with a 7-1 demolition of Exe 4’s. Captain Helen Symons led from the front with a 4 goal tally backed up with strikes from Lou Read, Tess Morris and ‘Captains Player of the Year’ Sarah Budgen with a fine solo effort.
Resuming in the New Year saw the welcome return of Gemma Harvey to the squad and a change in formation for KS. A pre-season friendly againt Dart saw the Junior players making up the majority of the squad and delivering a fine performance to win 3-2, showcasing the upcoming talent the club has and the dividends in supporting and investing in players at a young age.
As the league restarted KS were slow to regain their pre-break form and suffered again at the hands of Ottery Crickets and Exeter Uni, losing by just one goal in each closely fought game. Christmas 2012 has already been cancelled in the club diary!
Sparks of their return to winning ways came against Dawlish with a 3-0 win driven by the Kingsbridge Community College players in the squad. Geography teacher Miss Bell struck early with a superbly taken goal, followed up in the second half by junior Emily Read whose determined run at the defence and opportunistic shot looped past a startled keeper who was still wondering if 'that' hair colour was natural as she picked the ball out from the back of the goal. Miss Bell was on hand again in the closing minutes to tap home from close range for her second of the game that also saw junior player Tess Morris storm home with Woman of the Match after her committed performance.
The win looked to be just what was needed to focus the team before their Devon Trophy crunch game against Newton Abbot, who they would play two weeks in succession with a follow up league fixture.
After 3 years in the Devon Trophy final it was not to be the Cougars year as a dispirited performance saw them lose 1-0 and bow out of the trophy run. Despite being the better side on paper KS lacked their usual drive and struggled to find the killer touch on the day.
Facing Newton Abbot again the following weekend was a bittersweet fixture as the Cougars delivered a calm, controlled performance which saw their opponents under constant pressure as Symons struck twice to deliver a 2-0 victory and Hannah Durrans coming close to scoring on several occasions.
A strong team performance saw KS go down 4-1 away to Okehampton as they took their revenge for the Cougars stunning 6-5 victory earlier in the season, Heather-Jo Webber scoring the consolation goal for KS.
Closing out the season KS were playing for position in the league with 2 crunch games against Dart and ECVH. In a hotly contested end to end game the Cougars delivered a fantastic team performance and were unlucky to come away with a 0-0 draw against Dart after having the upper hand for most of the match.
Needing a win to secure fourth place and to provide a chance at third on goal difference KS were left with a mission for their last game – win by the biggest margin possible! After a long hard season with plenty of ups and downs the team attitude, commitment and delivery on pitch was nothing short of sensational.
In a game that delivered throughout top goalscorer Helen Symons netted early to put KS ahead, ‘Players Player’ Lou Read fired home on the stroke of halftime and ‘Player of the Season’ Bex Darke put her body on the line to score an excellent hat trick. Chloe Harvey provided the perfect rear end (to the season!) by scoring her first and only goal in the final minute to seal a superb 6-0 victory, much to the delight of the team and supporters.
To celebrate their end of season win 9 members of the club were in action again the following morning, raising money in aid of Sport Relief by running 3 miles each at Kingsbridge Rugby Club.
The Cougars would like to thank Chris Guard for administering the website and providing the (not always!) flattering photos from away games and congratulate him on winning the Supporters Cup this year.
The club is incredibly lucky to have amazing supporters and would also like the thank everyone who regularly came to watch them and became the ‘12th player’ from the sidelines, the Creeks End for providing home teas and new local sponsor South Moor Vets who kindly provided the squad with training jackets.
A final mention has to be made to the Kingsbridge and Salcombe Gazette who continue to provide great coverage across the wide breadth of sporting activities taking place in and around the South Hams, please accept our thanks for your support and coverage from everyone at the club.
Currently enjoying a slower tempo through the summer the Cougars are currently playing in the PMSL mixed summer league in Plymouth and finalising plans for the upcoming Olympic trip in August. Having been lucky enough to secure a single club allocation of tickets the team will be watching two Womens matches at the Olympic Hockey Park, including current World Champions the Netherlands.