"Day 1. We arrived in Smederevo, Serbia on 24th Aug, relatively unscathed and a little bit tired.
The hotel was good and there was a hot meal waiting for us and all the girls soon bedded in. After a brief meeting, everyone was off to bed with a sense of excitement and nerves.
On our first day we found ourselves up against tournament favorites RK Beograd, and this made our girls a little more nervous. But following a good start we were level at 8:8. Then we had 2 x 2min suspensions and ended the half down 13:10. From that point it was difficult for the girls to find the belief that they could overcome this team and the game got away from us finishing 25:17 to Beograd.
Stand-out players were Lucy Thornewell with 6 goals and Heidi Warren with 4.
That evening we took the girls down to the square to enjoy the opening ceremony and take their minds off the game for now and celebrate both Floran and Hannah winning Miss Trophy 22!
Day 2 and we were up against Reval (Estonia) who won the event the last time we were here, knocking us out of the semi-final 19:16. But we are a different team now and we led the game from start to finish winning 20:14.
Top scorers captain Holly Luke with 7 and Heidi with another 4, but this was a great defensive display by all involved.
Day 3. In order to get a favourable semi-final draw, and avoid Beograd, we needed a win against Serbian team RK Nemanjic. We also knew we had to give others their time with this game, and they did not let themselves down taking the game 21:12 with a good strong defence and a number of players on the scoresheet: Alice Cappel, Alice Abis, Mel Edwards all bagging 3 goals and Amelie Hambridge returning a 47% save ratio.
Day 4. Two games, the semifinal at 11:20 and the final 16:20.
We met Reval again in the semifinal and this in my opinion was our best game, and probably close to the best at this age group for me. Everything went as planned and we kept tech errors to our lowest ever (5) and our efficiency in the attack was 67%, and both GK's played their part in a strong defensive effort with 32%.
Top scorers: Holly 7 Heidi 4 and Hannah Saunders with 3, but she was immense throughout the tournament both in attack and defence.
In the final, we would meet Beograd again and this time we were ready. It was a nervy start for both teams, but we held the lead at half time 8:6. However, we knew we were fitter, and in the 2nd half this proved the case when we scored 9 counterattack opportunities to take the final 20:14.
Top scorers Holly 7, Hannah 6.
Hannah also went on to win the best player at the tournament to cap a terrific weekend for the squad.
So players that will leave our W19 group to hopefully move up are:
Lucy Thornewell Left Wing
Tabitha Sherratt Left Wing
Floran Steeples Right Back
Ella Oldland Right Back
Holly Luke Right Wing
Mel Edwards Right Wing
Rebecca Tichford GK
Amelie Hambridge GK
The staff would like to wish them all every success in the future and thank them for their invaluable contributions to the cultural development of this age group.
Staying with us on our new adventure will be:
Hannah Saunders Left Back
Beth Davies Left Back
Katherine Kessellring PM
Tosca Knight PM
Alice Cappell Right back
Alice Abis Pivot
Heidi Warren Pivot.
The search for the others starts this weekend with 20 players coming to Manchester to make their mark, we are all excited.
I would like to personally thank my assistant Amy Hardwick and physio Charlotte Park, who are always hard working behind the scenes, and Sue for her management and support in the build-up to this event."