U18 Girls Football
On Thursday 23rd November the O15 girls set off to make the short journey to Phuket along with 5 other Alice Smith teams for the annual BISP Soccer 7s and our final football tournament of the school year.
After winning 3 out of 3 tournaments at home and overseas this season, the girls were in high spirits and confident despite being placed in a tough pool which included the top 4 from last year, Dulwich College Beijing (DCB), British International School Phuket Orange (BISPO), ourselves and Epsom College Malaysia (ECM), along with semi finalists from two years ago, Shrewsbury International School Bangkok (SHB). The girls started their first game with a high tempo despite the 1pm blazing sun, knowing that a positive start against the hosts BISPO was imperative to get out of a strong group.
The game was fast paced, with most of the play taking place in the middle third of the pitch. There were half chances at both ends, but defences were on top as Kylie made a couple of good saves and Niamh and Holli supported from midfield limited the opposition to very few opportunities. The game could have gone either way, but with KLASS missing a good opportunity to break the deadlock on the counter attack the game finished in a 0-0 draw. Our second game of the day pitted us against SHB. With the pre tournament nerves out the way the girls started to pass the ball around a bit more, against a physically strong Shrewsbury who were looking to counter attack our pressing game with a long ball over the top. It was a game of two very different styles, as the front four of Ellie, Jess, Soph and Gabi looked to try and pass the ball around the big opposition defence whilst supporting Niamh and Holli to block any long balls over the top.
Click here for more photos (credit to Richard Ella Photography)
KLASS were on top for most of the game and looked to have won it in the second half when Gabi powerfully headed home a pinpoint corner from Jess. But just a couple of minutes from time we were undone after a throw in took several deflections and cruelly trickled over the line, and the game finished 1-1. This seemed to knock the girls confidence a little going into our final game of the day against ECM. Ellie set Gabi up for a well taken left footed shot into the bottom corner of the net after the keep saved the initial shot and then Lily set up Jess with a lovely cross to put us two up. Despite good interplay from Esmae, Jess, Lily, Soph and Leila, there was no further goals and the game ended 2-0. Though we never looked threatened in defence, KLASS never quite got our great passing game going for long enough and were left feeling a little frustrated and disappointed by our performance. With other results also ending in draws, four teams were tied on points at the end of day one with one game to play. We went into our final group game at the beginning of day two against last year's champions DCB knowing that we needed a win to send us into the cup semi final but a draw or loss would see us play for the plate.
The girls were really fired up after feeling like they’d let themselves down a little on day one and played arguably their best football of the tournament, dominating the possession from start to finish and playing some lovely attacking football. Soph held the ball up and distributed beautifully to Jess and Gabi on the wings, with Ellie bombing forwards and backwards to link our attack and defence. The girls pushed and pushed to find a breakthrough, with goal line scrambles and some good saves from the opposition keeper, but they just couldn’t find the goal that their great play deserved and the game finished 0-0. The acclaimed ‘group of death’ lived up to its billing, with the top 4 teams all drawing with each other, they all finished level on 10 points and it came down to who had scored the most goals against ECM. Sadly we scored the least goals against them and finished the group stage in 4th place. It was tough for the girls to take, finishing the group with three draws and a win when really their play deserved three wins and a draw.
A couple of hours later we faced Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM) in the plate semi final. The girls put the earlier disappointment behind them and took the game to MCM in the first half, with swift attacking moves and a high pressing game. KLASS took the lead after Lily laid the ball on for Leila from a throw in, for her hammer into the top right of the net with unstoppable power. Further chances came and went, we survived a late scare after Kylie gathered the ball following a goal mouth scramble, and the game finished 1-0 to send KLASS into the plate final. This set up a rematch against our group rival SHB. The girls again started strongly, and early into the game Jess fired in another pinpoint corner which Soph met with her head perfectly in mid flight to send the ball into the top corner of the net. Despite further good play we couldn’t find a second goal and minutes from the end of the game all the hard work was undone as one lapse of concentration saw us switch off from a throw in and leave a player unmarked in the box to hit the ball into the roof of the net. The game finished 1-1 and we went on to lose 1-0 on penalties to finish as plate runners up and 6th place overall. It was a horrible way to end a superb season, and certainly not what the girls deserved. Several coaches from opposition teams came to speak to me at the end of the tournament to tell me that we were the best team they had played in any competition all season and that they could not believe that we had finished 6th which offered some consolation to the girls.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the girls who have been part of the team this season, whether in friendlies, the Epsom tournament, ISAC League, SEASAC or Phuket. They have been part of an incredible run that has seen us play 28 games in all competitions, winning 19, drawing 9 and losing 0 in normal time, scoring 79 goals and conceding only 11 in the process. Their teamwork, team spirit, determination, high tempo play and passing style has been the key to this outstanding record; it truly is a remarkable achievement of which they should be very proud. A special mention to our departing Year 13 players, Sofia Farouk and Niamh Quigley who have been the foundation of the team for many years and have often been the unsung heroes, but to those in the squad we know the huge impact that you have had on our success and you will be greatly missed next year. We will all miss the football until September, but I’m looking forward to the 2018 season and aiming to retain our Gold in the Epsom tournament and ISAC league, being competitive and aiming for a medal in SEASAC division one and perhaps even that elusive Gold in the Phuket 7’s next November. Finally I’d like to say a huge thanks to the parents whose support and encouragement was superb throughout the 2 days and for the whole season, it really is a huge boost to have you cheering on the team from the sidelines and sharing the highs and lows together! I look forward to seeing you all again next season!
U18 Girls Football Coach
U18 Boys Football
The U18 boys football team entered this years Phuket 7s with high hopes of success following last years 3rd place. The team this year performed very well giving as ever 100% effort in each of their games. The results of this determination and fantastic team work mean't that the boys only conceded two goals in the group stages of the competition and lost only once.
However this was still not enough to take them through from a very competitive group and the team moved into the Plate competition. Undeterred by this, the team went onto win the Plate competition via two nerve racking penalty shoot outs, in the semi final and final.
The boys as ever were a credit to the school and a pleasure to coach. Click here for photos.
Director of Sports
Click here for this week's full issue - 30th November 2017