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Driffield Ladies clinch championship after making St Albans pay the penalty

Driffield Ladies Over 55 hockey team were crowned champions, at the third time of asking, when they won a thrilling Championship Final in London.

Driffield, playing in the final for the first time as an Over 55 side, had previously lost twice as an Over 45 side.

Delighted captain, Sarah Soanes, told the Wolds Weekly: “It was amazing and we were chuffed to bits to win.

“It’s quite amazing for a small market town like Driffield for us and the rugby team to win. Both such big events down in London. It’s amazing.

“For us it was brilliant. We are really hard working, the players are dedicated and do work hard for each other.

“We don’t play together often, but we have a great team which gels and has massive support for each other.

“It went to penalties, which is not great, but we won, and although Debs Nelson said at the beginning don’t let it go to penalties, it did and she saved the final one.”

The game was played at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park against St Albans.

St Albans have a very strong club, which consist of nine ladies teams, with their Over 45 side also winning.

St Albans started fast pushing six players into Driffield’s quarter of the pitch. With solid defending Driffield Ladies were able to find their form and focused on accurate passing around the team until gaps could be opened up in the defence.

After 20 minutes Susan Bratt scored for Driffield from a penalty corner, deflecting the shot on goal into the corner.

Loud encouragement from the St Albans supporters fortified the southern ladies and boosted their play.

Despite spirited defence and fast reflexes from keeper Nelson, St Albans were able to equalise before halftime.

It was hot and temperatures were reaching 19 degrees, and with only two substitutes, compared to St Albans five, Driffield had to rotate the team and dig deep.

St Albans battled hard to break through the back line and their brutal persistence paid off when 10 minutes in a hard strike from the top of the “D” smashed into Driffield’s goal. And a second goal was disallowed on appeal to the umpires, who agreed there had been a St Albans foot in the “D”.

Driffield were now running on adrenaline and put everything into the last few minutes and Yorkshire determination resulted in winning a couple of penalty short-corners. Sally Hunt received and struck the ball solidly, making it 2-2.

The final whistle blew shortly after and both teams faced a penalty shoot-out.

A penalty shoot-out is best of five penalty strokes with sudden death if scores are level after five strokes.

This is where Driffield’s own ‘Maddie Hinch’ otherwise known as Debs Nelson had to hold her nerve.

Driffield Ladies have been trying for many years to win this competition and came so close in 2015 losing 5-6 and then again in 2017 losing in a shoot-out, both as Over 45s.

Fiona Tuplin, Sally Hunt, Helen Holdswoth, Fiona Green and Mieke Davison took the penalty strokes and the result was 2-2 after five each.

The pressure was unbearable and no-one wanted to be in keeper Nelson’s position.

Tuplin stepped up again and scored, keeping the strike low and wide. St Albans just managed to equalise with Nelson getting her stick to the ball, but the momentum just took it over the line.

Davison was next and again kept the ball low and wide. Driffield 2-1 in front with St Albans next.

Nelson, the team’s totally amazing, humble keeper saved the flick and Driffield Ladies were victorious.
Sarah added: “Thank you ladies for finally winning this competition.

“Hard work and team work won the day.”

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