PUBLISHED 17 April 2022
Everyone at AKS is celebrating as ex-pupil Mollie M brings home the bronze medal from the recent Junior World Cup played in South Africa at the start of April. The achievement of the very young U21 squad , which included some players who played alongside AKS’s other international Anya J in last years U16 team, is even more impressive as it is the first time any England team has got onto the podium with 4th being the best placed finish of all previous teams.
Mollie was named in the 20 player England U21 Squad to take part in the Junior World Cup in Potchefstroom, South Africa and was further honoured by being named as a co vice-captain.
Since leaving school in 2019 Mollie has been part of the very successful University of Nottingham side and she has continued to be part of the GB U23 Elite Development Programme training regularly both remotely during lockdown and since then at Lilleshall National Sports Centre.
Being selected for the squad for the re-scheduled Junior World Cup was a fantastic and deserved reward for Mollie after all the hard work she has put in, both on the pitch and in the gym, and was Mollie’s first global tournament where she experienced playing teams from all over the World and bringing home a medal was a bonus!
The teams’ first game saw them up against the host nation South Africa where they faced not only their opposition on the pitch but also a ‘home crowd’ in the stands. After settling in to their rhythm the team went ahead before half time and cemented the win after the break with two goals to secure the win. The second game saw the team take on Ireland and as expected this was a hard fought close match. Ireland scored first from a corner in the 4th minute but England got on terms 5 minutes later from a penalty stroke and went into the break level at 1 – 1. After the break it was England that took the lead with the best move of the game and despite a nervy final quarter, with successive Ireland penalty corners nearly finding an equaliser, England survived for their second win and a place in the quarter-final.
In the quarter final they faced a strong and physical USA side. They once again went behind early on when USA tool the lead with 3 minutes on the clock but got back on terms in the 17th minute and got the decisive winner late in the 3rd quarter to earn their place in the semi-final against Germany.
The semi-final, with medals at stake, saw England against an experienced and clinical Germany team who started on the front foot scoring from two well drilled corners in the first 10 minutes of the game. Despite their best efforts England could not match Germany who did not take their foot off the accelerator and with two more goals before the break sealed their place in the final leaving England to fight for the bronze medal against India.
In the 3rd/4th playoff match England showed their real determination and fight with bronze medals the prize for the winners. England took an early lead but India were level only 3 minutes later and they then went into the lead after the break. India had one hand on the medals but England raised their game and scored with just 3 minutes left on the clock to take the game into a penalty shoot out. England players held their nerve and with 3 converted shuffles clinch the win and all the team celebrated their superb achievement and return from South Africa with bronze medals.
Mollie understandibly was 'over the moon' . Congratulations from everone at AKS!