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Colchester secure National title
 Women's Football News 22 Mar 2011
Colchester secure National title - 22 Mar 2011 - Women's Football NewsColchester United Ladies Academy secured the club's first ever national title on a proud day at Norwich City's Carrow Road stadium. 
The Academy side, based at Thurstable School in Tiptree, took on reigning champions Balby Carr Sports Academy from Doncaster in the final of the English Schools FA National Under-18 Girls competition.
Colchester were in control throughout the match but chance after chance went begging as Balby Carr somehow managed to stay on level terms into the half time break.
It looked like the deadlock would be broken midway through the second half when Hannah Gowland who terrorised the Balby defence all day long without managing to find the net was sent tumbling in the box. The frustration continued however for the U's as Emily Heaslip's spot kick was well saved by Katie Bailey in the Doncaster goal who then also managed to scramble away the rebound.
It was left then to a moment of real quality from captain Maegen Doyle to seal the deal, producing a 65th minute goal truly worthy of winning a major cup final. Collecting the ball in the centre circle the England Under-19 international jinked past a series of opposition challenges before unleashing a vicious swerving, dipping strike from 25 yards that this time Bailey could only watch as it bulged the corner of the net.
Colchester continued to control the game and confidently played out the remaining minutes to clinch the title sparking jubilant scenes at the final whistle highlighted by a series of back flips from the elated goalscorer Doyle. While Doyle had provided the moment of inspiration, it was a tremendous all around team performance from the players, staff and supporters that got the team over the line, one that left Academy Manager David Coyle brimming with pride.
"I am delighted for the players, I know how hard they work and it is a fantastic reward and achievement for them," he said. "We were the better team by far today but the longer it stayed goalless you never know especially after we had missed so many chances and the penalty. It was a great testament to the players attitude though that they kept going and eventually made the breakthrough.
"At the end of the day in a cup final you just need to score one more than the other team and that was good enough today. In some ways it was good for the players experience and development that they had to work so hard as if we had put away our chances and won by six or seven it may have lessened the sense of achievement."
Colchester United Ladies Director of Football Kevin Anderson remarked on the importance of the win in the context of the club's overall ambitions: "It's a landmark for the club, we have a great set up along with our Centre of Excellence and Ladies teams, the club is ambitious and moving in the right direction and we want to be challenging for honours at all age levels.
"The Academy is leading the way, the players and staff are a joy to be around and work with and are a fine example of the standards we are setting, everyone involved was proud to wear the badge today."
There could be more honours in store for the Academy squad as they are still involved in the latter stages of four other competitions. On May 11th they will take on Arsenal Ladies Academy in the British Colleges National Cup Final, while the team also sits on top of the BCS National Elite League ahead of both Arsenal and Chelsea Ladies Academy programmes. The team will also be looking to reach the BCS National Elite League Play-Offs final for the second consecutive season and also to defend their Essex Colleges crown.

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