Support through Sport UK’s Claire headed to Wembley Arena to cover the 2017 Super Sixes Indoor Finals …
The semi-finals were up first with the top four men’s and women’s teams battling it out for a place in the afternoon’s finals.
Slough took on Sutton Coldfield in the first of the women’s semi-finals and, in an intense first half, Sutton’s Laura Puddle dominated, scoring two goals. Slough pushed back in the second half, however; a goal from Beth Merriman taking the score to 2-1. Sutton Coldfield were the stronger team on the day though and Harriet Ward’s late goal secured them a 3-1 win and a place in the final.
In the second of the women's semi-finals, Bowden Hightown took on Canterbury. Having had a fantastic run of indoor hockey this season, and having had top goal scorer Sally Walton bring home 13 goals in the tournament so far, Bowden looked set to claim their place in the final with ease. Canterbury had different ideas, however, playing hard and fast and holding their defence tight. Grace Balsdon secured an early 2-0 lead for the Canterbury side, with Tina Cullen from Bowden only able to claim one goal back for her side. Balsdon then went on to secure a hat trick and Eliza Brett also found the goal to put Canterbury firmly in the lead. As the game drew to a close, Sally Walton was able to secure a final goal for Bowden, but this just wasn't enough as Canterbury won 4-2 and claimed their place in the final.
As the final loomed, the crowds at Wembley Arena were treated to a parade from the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medal winning team. The team received a standing ovation. It’s amazing to see how far hockey has come since Rio (in terms of participation and support) and the team really has done their nation proud. Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh was keen to make sure that everyone was aware of just how grateful they all were for the support they received, saying: “thank you so much for everyone's support, the hockey family really are amazing.” Lily Owsley added: “it’s been overwhelming, all of us have been trying to get into as many schools as we can, trying to inspire girls to pick up sticks. We hope to inspire the next generation to achieve what we have achieved.” And, commenting on their hard work and dedication, Alex Danson said: “four years ago, the 31 of us sat down, made the decision about what we wanted to do, stuck to it and all of our dreams came true.”
The women's final saw Slough take on Canterbury in what was probably the most evenly matched game of the day, with neither side allowing the opposition through. The teams fought hard, but in the end it was goals from Dilly Newton and Georgie Whitaker that secured a 2-0 win for Slough. After the game, Slough’s captain said: “a lot of hard work over the past six months has got us here and we are thrilled with the result. We love playing Canterbury, it's fast and it's furious and we were delighted to have them in the final - and a credit to them; it was a great game.”