WHITBY ladies’ hockey team has once again been crowned league champions.
Whitby travelled to last season’s league winners Barnard Castle for their final, toughest game of the season, knowing the outcome would decide the overall destiny of the title.
Fielding their strongest team yet, Whitby opened play nervously but vigorously.
Barnard Castle, a well-established and tight unit, opened play with superb passing skills, resulting in some dominating play in the first 15 minutes.
Mags White, Alex Bagnall and Sammy Gibson, along with the Whitby midfield, had to work hard to keep them at bay.
After the nerves had subsided, Whitby started to put more pressure on Barnard with their midfield of Jo Braithwaite, Beth Sanderson and Lisa Mussett closing down and marking the opposition tight.
The supporting play from midfield to attack was so strong that Whitby put fierce pressure on Barnard but were unable to score, with the teams locked at 0-0 at half-time.
The second half saw Whitby a more determined and fit team. Their focus turned the tables with Nicola Kent being very unlucky on several one v ones with the keeper and Jess Purvis constantly weaving and dummying to find her way into the circle.
Barnard Castle started to run out of steam, relying heavily on their centre frrward, who was tightly marked in midfield.
Eventually after Jackie Smith had a solo run, the forwards managed to hound Barnard’s defence into chaos and a well-struck shot from the top of the circle from Jess Purvis found Beth Sanderson to nudge the ball into the goal from the right post.
Spirits high, Whitby went on to have several attacking corners, retaining possession in their attacking half.
Beth Sanderson found an opening on the right, taking the ball into the circle, wrong footing the goalkeeper and scored with a slick reverse stick sweep shot.
With a 2-0 lead and 10 minutes left on the clock, Whitby were caught out with a quick break from the Barnard forwards, who halved the deficit, with everything to play for.
But sheer grit and determination from Whitby kept Barnard at bay for the remainder of the match as jubilant Whitby gained victory wand the league title.
Beth Sanderson was awarded player of the match from the Barnard squad.
Whitby ended the season with 14 games played, 12 won, two lost with a total of 36 points – 53 goals for and 11 against.
This was a well-deserved result as the team has worked extremely hard this season.
A huge thank you to Jo Braithwaite, Nicola Kent and Karen Sanderson for their huge commitment and effort in running the club so successfully and efficiently.