Alderley Edge Ladies 1s rounded off their incredible season by winning the Investec Women's Trophy at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Saturday, 30th April.
In what was a dramatic and nail-baiting final, the North league division 2 champions beat Harrogate 5-4 in a penalty shoot out.
Edge started strongly and pressurised Harrogate's defence and keeper from the outset, Amanda Bennison coming agonising close to opening the scoring having connected with a perfectly placed pass from Jen Park.
However, once the Yorkshire side found their momentum they took full advantage of a gap in Edge's defence and it was they who drew first blood. As half time approached Edge continued to create chances but struggled to finish, leaving them 0-1 down at half time.
Some straight talking at half time from coach Jamie Henderson saw Edge dictating the play in the second half, with Jen Park constantly challenging in the Yorkshire team's D. However, it was Sarah Hopkin who equalled the score line after coolly stepping up and slotting home a penalty stroke awarded after Harrogate's Captain was sent off.
Both teams continued to push for the win but were beaten by the clock, drawing 1-1 at full time meaning the game went to penalty shuffles.
Harrogate missed their first two, unlike Edge, which put the title within Alderley's grasp. However, Harrogate's keeper saved Edge's next two shots, thus levelling the score once again. In an incredibly tense atmosphere, the teams traded shots until Edge's keeper, Harriet Whittaker, made one of the most important saves of her career to date, clinching the Investec Trophy for Edge – the first time in the club's history it has ever won this National competition.
Immediately after the game, Edge's captain, Claire Newton, commented: "We're very proud – we worked really hard for this. Harrogate gave us the runaround in the first half but we knew we could do it and we did. It's been a fantastic day and such an honour to play on the Olympic pitch. A huge thanks to our coaches and supporters who have all been amazing."
AEHC's ladies were in Olympic Park action again on Bank Holiday Monday with the U18 girls facing Reading in the final of the England Hockey U18 Plate. Unfortunately, the final result was 2-1 to Reading but the girls did themselves proud playing some gutsy hockey and dominating the game for long periods.
After a fast and furious opening 10 minutes, Edge took control heaped pressure on Reading winning 4 or 5 short corners and fashioning a couple of good chances. Unfortunately, these couldn't be converted and, very much against the run of play, Reading took the lead five minutes before half time.
The second half started with Edge in control again, but then Lauren Woodhead was hit in the jaw by a wild Reading stick and was momentarily knocked out. Almost immediately afterwards Imogen Walker received a harsh green card and while Edge were adjusting to the loss of two first choice defenders, Reading took advantage and scored again.
When back up to full strength, Edge stepped up the pressure and got their reward when Jess Clitheroe turned in a clever finish to bring the score back to 2-1. Despite Edge throwing everything at Reading for the final 15 minutes, including withdrawing goalkeeper Harriet Whittaker for another striker, the equaliser would not come and the score finished 2-1 to Reading.
Special mention goes Issy Reynolds-Duffy who never stopped running and to Lauren Woodhead who came back on to carry on playing a great game despite being knocked unconscious!
Match report by Sue Polley.