KS Cougars Hockey Team celebrated the end of another solid season with their annual awards evening last Saturday, letting their hair down afterwards and painting the town in their Red & Blue local colours.
Celebrating three consecutive Devon Trophy finals and another good season in the league this years newly elected captain Helen Symons was awarded the Sportswoman award for her organisation and leadership of the team. Having played with the club since she was a junior, Symons has shown great development through the year as she has settled in to her new role and responsibilities.
Looking back to last September the Cougars started the season well, winning all of their pre-season warm up games comfortably and not looking too rusty after the summer break.
Starting the season with a 4-0 win against Plym Valley 2’s KS rolled on to win 3 of their first four games in the league until drawing 1-1 against Truro after newcomer Heather-jo Webber suffered a crunching ankle injury which brought her great start in the club to an end for the year. Heather continued to be an active supporter at both home and away games and recently gave the Cougars a lift when she made a welcome return to training.
The Cougars also said goodbye to Gemma Harvey early in the season. After joining the club as a junior and delivering her usual performances of driving runs and solid tackles Gemma left to travel ‘Down Under’ and into South America on her GAP year before University. The team is eagerly anticipating her return for the mixed hockey season in Plymouth this summer.
After holding second in the league Plym Valley 1’s to a hard fought 3-3- draw KS suffered their heaviest defeat of the season just before the Christmas break, going down 8-2 away to a strong Okehampton side whose star player netted almost all of their goals.
A very long break over the festive period gave the Cougars a chance to recharge their batteries and the side restarted the New Year with a three game unbeaten run, culminating with a 6-0 demolition of Bodmin at the end of January. One of the Cougars most impressive results of the season saw new team member Natalie Elliott establish her presence in the forward line with an excellent hat trick, well deserved after scoring on her debut and a string of good early performances.
Coming in to the New Year saw several new faces in the Cougars line up with Laura Carruthers-Watt and Sarah Pope joining the club and contributing well to the team.
KS have a solid framework of match experience in the ‘old hands’ of Claire Jones, Lou Read, Fi Wadey and Sarah Budgen whose tireless drive and seemingly endless reserves of great performances give the club a fantastic foundation on which to build. Wadey has been a rock at left back, linking well with sweeper Jones and on occasion allowing Read
to push forwards, where she always proves a danger in front of goal and has several assists for the season.
KS returned after the late season break to win convincingly 5-0 against Truro, with the forward line of Nicola Bowes, Symons and Elliot taking a goal each, midfielder Sarah Cullen getting her name on the score sheet and junior member Phoebe Thomas taking an excellent goal from a tight angle to the delight of the watching supporters.
Late season saw a dip for the Cougars as they battled hard to narrow 2-1 losses against Falmouth and Torbay in consecutive weeks in the midst of the Devon Trophy qualifiers.
The grit and determination they showed in these games against the top tier league sides was reflected in their Devon Trophy semi-final against Ottery Crickets when they ran out 8-0 victors. Symons was on deadly form with four goals, backed up by Abi Bell & Nic Bowes with a brace each. Bowes commitment to the team both on and off the pitch earned her the Captains Player award last Saturday.
The Cougars finished the league season on a high by taking their revenge on Plym Valley 1’s with a fantastic 2-1 away win, ending the Plymouth sides season long unbeaten home record. After new keeper Beth Durrans kept the Cougars in the game with an inspiring penalty flick save Chloe Harvey took the starring role at left half, instrumental in setting up both goals for the Cougars. Harvey’s jinking runs down the left side have been the favourite of many supporters over the season.
As a team the Cougars have showed continued development throughout the season as their passing and structure has steadily improved, when on form they are a match for any side in the league and can be proud of having achieved the results to prove this on several occasions. Adjustments to formation and position have seen the upcoming members of the squad go from strength to strength as they have taken charge of their new roles.
In particular Bex Darke has shone all season in the centre midfield, showing composure on the ball and great vision. Her 110% commitment to each game has seen her earn green card cautions on several occasions - this determination is well balanced by a controlling presence on the pitch, a good goal tally and an eye for the right pass. Darkes pivotal role was justly rewarded with the Players Player award this year, voted for by all members of the club.
Darkes midfield partner Sarah Cullen has shown great drive to take her already fantastic game to a higher level over the season and she was a well deserved winner of the Most Improved player. Cullen’s expansion in mental approach to the game and physical presence on the pitch was best demonstrated recently against Bude. Cullen has been impressive over the season with several goals to her name and will be an inspiration to the junior players as to how to approach their games. She will surely be a great asset to her University side when she heads off after the summer and will be sorely missed by all of the Cougars.
Junior members Tess Morris, Georgie & Charley Adams and Phoebe Thomas have all made superb progress in their first seasons, earning good experience in the Women’s league whilst still at school, which only highlights the promising talents coming into the club and the importance of local teams engaging and encouraging players at an early stage. Tess Morris crowned her earlier glory of scoring for the Cougars with the Junior Player award for this year.
Ending the season in the Devon Trophy final returning favourites Claire McIntosh and Lucy Croft both made their presence felt, Croft with a superbly gritty performance at left back and McIntosh with her trademark Trophy Final goal. Keeper Beth Durrans rounded off a superb first season in goal with not one, but two penalty flick saves at the highest standard of trophy competition in Devon.
The Cougars have been amazingly supported throughout the season by friends and family alike and this years Supporters Cup was awarded to Lorrie ***** who has travelled the length and breadth of Devon and Cornwall in her support of the club. KS Cougars wish to extend their thanks to each and every supporter who made it to a game during the season, to Chris Guard for administering the website, the Creeks End for providing home teas and to the Gazette for their coverage of our local side.
Training continues at the Astroturf pitch at Kingsbridge School on Thursday evenings throughout the summer with new members always welcome, the club can be contacted through its website www.pitchero.com/clubs/kingsbridgesalcombehockeyclub.
The KS Cougars mixed side will start their summer league fixtures in early May, looking to pick up from their excellent second place finish last year.