Benenden School have won the highest honour in schools Lacrosse.
The 1st team won the Rathbones National Schools Lacrosse Championships after a dramatic two days of competition at Guildford’s Surrey Park.
In the end their 3-0 victory in the Final over Lady Eleanor Holles – avenging an earlier defeat by the same team in the morning’s pool stage – was relatively comfortable, but that masked an exciting and topsy-turvy second day.
Having reached the Quarter-Final stage last year, Benenden arrived as one of the favourites to lift the title. And on Day One, everything went to plan, as they eased through the group stages with six back-to-back wins.
But on the second day Benenden endured a tough morning in the last-16 pool stage, with one draw and two defeats. That meant they finished third in their pool and would be handed a difficult draw in the knockout stage against one of the tournament’s favourites. If they were going to win the tournament, they were going to have to do it the hard way.
In the knockout stages, Benenden rose to the challenge. They eliminated St Catherine’s and St Mary’s Calne before an epic Semi-Final against Downe House. The teams were deadlocked at 4-4 at the final whistle. That forced Overtime and Benenden scored the golden goal to progress to the Final.
In addition to claiming the title there was individual recognition for two Benenden players, Scarlett Johnson was named best midfielder of the competition and also took home the Vivien Jones Memorial Award for the most valuable player and Eliza White was named best attacker of the competition.
Benenden’s 2nd team also enjoyed success, finishing third in their competition after a narrow 1-0 defeat in their Semi-Final match against St Paul’s Girl’s School. The Nationals continue on Monday and Tuesday, with five more Benenden teams competing across the different levels.
Director of Sport, Fitness and Wellbeing Louise Hall said: “I’m extremely proud of the girls and our staff, who have worked so very hard for this success. All those training sessions have paid off – and their resolve and resilience shone through. They kept their heads up during a tough second morning of competition and then turned in their strongest performances when it mattered most.
“We have been working all season to win this tournament and knew this was our time, but for the girls to actually get their hands on that trophy is absolutely incredible.”
Headmistress Samantha Price said: “This is an amazing achievement and the whole of Benenden is overjoyed at their success. My congratulations go to all the girls and staff whose hard work has contributed to this triumph.
“All of our teams who are competing at the Nationals are making Benenden proud, and the strength in the lower age groups shows that Benenden has an extremely positive future in Lacrosse even after many of our Senior team leave us in the summer to go to university.”
Team Captain Freya Hopkisson, who has been picked to play for England in a tournament running alongside this summer’s World Cup, said: “I can’t believe it. We’d had a fantastic season, beating all our main rivals so it just came down to performing on the day. I’m so incredibly proud of the whole team, we did it and it feels amazing to be National Champions!”
The 1st team’s victory follows hot on the heels of them having won the Vivien Jones Cup – a league between the top eight schools in the South. It is rare for teams to hold both the Vivien Jones and the National title at the same time.