Champions Surbition eye up league and cup double
Champagne moment: Former England international Chloe Strong breaks open bubbly after Surbiton lifted the Women's Hockey League title
After a perfect weekend, Surbiton Ladies captain Sarah Haycroft is now
out to wrap up a perfect season.
The 23-year-old England international led her side to the Women’s Hockey League Premier Division Championship title in Reading on Sunday.
Haycroft celebrated her birthday with a 4-1 semi-final win over the host club on Saturday, before goals from Emily Atkinson, Hollie Webb and Jenna Woolven secured a 3-0 final triumph over Canterbury on Sunday.
It meant Surbiton qualified for next season’s EuroHockey League, and Liverpool’s Premier League win over Manchester City gave Reds fan Haycroft plenty to smile about.
The Sugden Road outfit take on South Division One Hampstead & Westminster in next weekend’s Women’s Cup final and the England international has a thirst for more silverware.
“It was a perfect weekend really,” said Haycroft, below.
“We have the cup final in a couple of weeks so it would be great to make it a perfect season.
“It is amazing to think this is only the team’s second year at this level. It shows you how far we have come.
“It has been a whole squad effort and not just the 18 players that played in the finals.”
Surbiton suffered the agony of a shoot-out defeat to Leicester at the semi-final stage 12 months ago, and Haycroft admitted that experience had played its part in this season’s success.
“It was very close last year, but we had that experience this year to go on and win it,” said the skipper.
“The Reading win flattered us a bit because it was a very close game.
“We had beaten Canterbury earlier in the season but all we talked about before the game was that finals are never easy.
“But we worked hard as a team and that got us through.”
Surbiton will follow their male counterparts into Europe next season and could be dark horses for the title.
“There will be no expectations on us, which might mean we’ll be more relaxed,” added Haycroft.
“We’ll take each game as it comes and hope to spring a few surprises.”
Haycroft and international team-mate Georgie Twigg were quick to hail the club’s title triumph as a team effort, but the skipper admitted two players had made telling contributions.
Fellow England star Hollie Webb scored her side’s second goal in the 3-0 final win over Canterbury, but it was her defensive effort in the semi-final win over Reading that caught the eye.
“When they asked her to be in a photograph of the final goalscorers, it was a surprise for her. She doesn’t usually score,” said Haycroft.
“She has been brilliant for us all season. Her tackling is probably the best in the league and she marked England international Alex Danson out of the semi-final.”
Meanwhile, Sarah Page was crowned player of the play-offs and Haycroft could see why.
“Sarah is so threatening going forward and just kept winning us the ball in the middle,” she said.
“It was a whole team effort though. The way we kept defending and defending was brilliant.”
Surbiton lost the services of the influential Bryant sisters – Vicky and Amy – earlier in the campaign.
They have also been shorn of their international stars at times this term and Haycroft praised head coach Brett Garrard’s faith in the depth of his squad.
“We will always have a turnover of players because of the size of the club,” added Haycroft.
“There have been a few young players who have come in plugged the gaps and performed really well.
“We beat Reading in the regular season without any internationals, which shows our depth in talent.”