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Taw Valley Stags do the impossible

Taw Valley Under 10 Hockey Club played at the Devon County Championships in Tiverton Blundells and the Stags performed brilliantly to win the gold medal, which also means progressing to the regional finals in Bristol.

First up were Taw Valley Hinds Girls who won one but lost two as they made it into the fifth place play-off where they emerged victorious with a close 1-0 win with captain Izsi scoring her second goal of the morning.

All this contributed to a respectable fifth place finish for the team, defender Marley was awarded the MVP. Most of this team graduated from the Hockey Heroes section this season and the youngest player was just seven years old.

Taw Valley Pricketts Boys had a tough start to the competition, losing the first pool game 5-0, but rallied brilliantly in the second to hold Ashmoor to a goalless draw and the goal difference set them up for a quarter-final meeting against Taw Valley Deer

The Stags looked strong from the start of the tournament, beating Exeter and Culm Vale 3-0 in their opening game thanks to a hat-trick from Percy. Another win against Exe Hockey Club with a goal for Percy and Charlie secured top spot in the pool and a quarter final tie against Pricketts.

Pricketts played hard and defenders Billy and Harry B had some incredible defensive moves but the onslaught was constant. Goalie Pricketts Brennan made a couple of saves but the Stags were on fire with a hat trick from Elvis and one each from Asha and Charlie giving the Stags a 5-0 win.

It was a valiant effort by the Pricketts’ development team, many of whom haven’t played any competitive hockey this season. Pricketts MVP Billy played an exceptional game of hockey, defending extremely well and keeping deficits to a minimum, all of which bode well for the future at Taw Valley with strength depth throughout the club.

The Stags went into the semi-final full of confidence and a repeat of their earlier match against Exe was all that stood in the way of them reaching the gold medal match and automatic qualification to the West Regionals.

A strong display saw Percy claim another hat-trick, backed up by goals from Elvis, Max and Charlie to seal another emphatic victory. In the other semi-final, top county clubs Isca and Plymouth Marjon drew, meaning Taw Valley will have to wait for the penalty shootout to find out who they will face in the final.

Plymouth Marjon sealed the victory and after a short break and a team huddle the Stags took to the field again with the aim of winning gold against a strong and highly talented club.

A pulsating 13 minutes of end-to-end hockey ensued, with neither team finding the backboard. The trainers and spectators were visibly stressed, wondering and hoping the deer would find a way!

The decisive moment came when 14Thursday-a minute into the drive and Percy’s shot found its way beyond the reach of keeper Marjon and into the right corner, the impossible had come true! Marjon did not find an equalizer in the last minute of the match. Final score: Taw Valley Stags 1 Plymouth Marjon 0.

The gold medal for each of the eight-man team with MVP was presented to goalkeeper Ezra for five clean sheets and great communication.

Taw Valley Junior Coordinator Stuart Govier said of the tournament: “We’ve had a remarkable two years since Covid, growing the club beyond our expectations and developing some fabulous talent.

“Winning gold in the district finals didn’t seem possible a year ago, but these players were incredible. They have managed to demonstrate their small but mighty spirit and that our ‘no pressure to perform’ ethos really works! We’re one of the smallest, most isolated junior hockey clubs in Devon, we just didn’t think it was possible.”

Both Taw Valley Stags and Plymouth Marjon will represent Devon at the West Regional Finals on Sunday 16th April at Clifton College, Bristol.

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