On Monday 26th March a new team was formed at Bridgewater – U11 girls’ football. With very little time to practice and having never played together previously, this was not going to deter the team from entering the AJIS 7-a-side football tournament at St Bedes, Manchester. The event had been postponed earlier in the month due to snow, but this time the sun came out on the warmest day of the year so far.
The team entered the competition not knowing what to expect, although if excitement alone was going to bring results then the girls would be in with a chance of winning a game or two! First up were the hosts St Bedes’ A team. The formation looked right on paper and the tactics had been explained over lunch, but could the plan be executed? Sure enough, Bridgewater conceded first after a misplaced goal kick fell at the feet of the opponents feet. Not quite to plan as an opener, but the rest of the game was all scripted by Bridgewater. Lily hit the post – the first of what was to be a few on the day! However, Ellen in midfield took charge and fired a shot back over the keeper’s head from her goal kick to level the scores. With time running out Ellen again picked up the ball on the half way line and battled past defenders and crashed the ball past the helpless St Bedes keeper. An historic first game had ended in an unexpectedly delightful 2-1 win for the now ecstatic team.
With no time to rest in between games, it was Bury Grammar B up next. Adrenaline flowed from the kick off and Bridgewater took control of the game early on. Lily hit the bar this time, but scored with her next chance to give the girls a 1-0 lead. Molly and Isabella were tremendous at the back and Freya made a crucial save to keep Bridgewater ahead. As the game went on, Bury found it more difficulty to cope with the driving runs from Ellen and two more strokes from an onfire Ellen gave the team an impressive 3-0 win over Bury Grammar B team.
The third game was to prove to be pivotal in determining who took home the winners’ trophy. Stockport Grammar were a bigger and more experienced side and did not concede a goal all day. However, it was Bridgewater who went on the front foot looking for victory and on the balance of play were actually the better team. Stockport got the only goal of the game following a break away move that not even the excellent defending of Molly and Isabella could stop. The “what might of been moment” of the game and the whole tournament was when Lily superbly held off the defender’s challenge to dribble 20 metres before firing the ball past the stranded keeper – only to see it rebound back off the post! With two games to go, the title was out of our hands and all Bridgewater could do was continue to have fun and beat whoever was put in front of them and hope Stockport would slip up.
Bury Grammar were up next and Bridgewater were in no mood to give up the challenge. Goals from Lily, Star and Ellen have the team a comfortable 3-0 win over Bury’s A team. Juretha was working hard in the middle with Dalia now and everyone was growing in confidence. Freya was more commanding in goal, whilst Molly and Isabella cleared everything that came their way. The same performance was given in the final game with Bridgewater beating St Bedes’ A team 3-0 with goals again from Ellen, Lily and Star.
In the final analysis, Bridgewater finished an incredible runners-up in the tournament, a position that nobody could really expect based on their lack of playing time. Ellen finished the tournament top goal scorer and Bridgewater finished as the overall team top scorers. A solitary point and one goal was the difference in not winning the tournament, but nobody left Manchester complaining. This was the first girls’ football game Bridgewater Prep had ever played, but it will certainly not be their last!