Surbiton goalkeeper, Abi Walker saved three out of four Canterbury attempts to help Surbiton to win the shootout 3-1 after a goalless draw in normal time at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
Walker’s heroics deservedly earned her the Player of the Final award after the game.
Yes, we’ve won it again – the Surbiton Ladies squad and management with the IWHL Championship Trophy. Photo: Tim Reder Photography.
Canterbury goalkeeper, Helen Fagg saved from Surbiton’s Naomi Evans before Sarah Haycroft’s attempt ended up wide of the right post.
However, Walker not only swept Line Malan’s shuffle over the sideline but forced Sarah Kerly’s effort out of the circle to ensure the shootout also remained goalless after each team’s first two attempts.
Surbiton’s Abi Walker in action on Sunday. Photo: Tim Reder Photography.
Abi Robinson gave Surbiton a 1-0 lead from her team’s third attempt, Canterbury’s Dirkie Chamberlain also be denied by a Walker save which sent the ball past the left post.
Georgie Twigg doubled Surbiton’s lead from the fourth attempt, but Canterbury’s Susie Rowe quickly beat Walker from the edge of the circle to keep the Kent club in contention.
It fell to Hollie Webb to take the responsibility of scoring the winning shuffle and she passed the test with flying colours to ensure that Surbiton became the first team to win the IWHL Premier Division three times in succession via the Championship play-offs.
Surbiton’s Abi Walker (left) and captain, Sarah Haycroft (right) proudly display the Player of the Final award and the IWHL Championship trophy after Sunday’s triumph. Photo: Tim Reder Photography.
Surbiton also repeated last year’s feat of winning the Championship after finishing top of the Premier Division table.
Since the Women’s EHL started in 1990, Slough have achieved the “threepeat” in 1990,1991 and 1992; and again in 1997,1998 and 1999. Leicester also won in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Surbiton are now guaranteed England’s top ranking for the 2016-17 season, so will play in the EHCCC again next season. Canterbury are ranked second and will have to wait to see which competition they play in after the ranking tables are published later this year.
In normal time, for the second day running, Surbiton had less possession than their opponents, but again were not punished due to Canterbury not taking their chances.
Surbiton made several unforced errors and lacked the cohesion which had carried them to the top of the Premier Division and European qualification.
They also overcame the setback of Sarah Page being sent to the sin-bin for a total of seven minutes: receiving a green card in the 16th minute and a yellow card in the 45th.
Webb, who also worked hard in defence was named together with Beckie Middleton in the IWHL Premier Division Team of the Season.
Head Coach, Brett Garrard, together with Manager, Mark Atherton has masterminded Surbiton’s third Championship in four years in the top flight and they will now prepare for this season’s EuroHockey Club Champions Cup in Bilthoven from 13-16 May.
Next season, Surbiton will face Slough and Bowdon Hightown in the IWHL Premier Division. Bowdon Hightown retained their top flight status, finishing second to the Conference East champions in the Promotion Tournament.