BENENDEN SCHOOL first team have won the highest honour in school lacrosse, the Rathbones National Schools Championships, after a dramatic two days of competition at Guildford’s Surrey Park.

They comfortably beat Lady Eleanor Holles 3-0 in the final, avenging a defeat by them in the pool stage. But they had a testing time getting there.

Benenden eased through the group stages with six back-to-back wins. But on the second day the girls endured a tough morning in the last-16 pool stage, with one draw and two defeats.

That meant they finished third in their pool and would be handed a difficult draw in the knockout stage. But Benenden rose to the challenge, eliminating St Catherine’s and St Mary’s Calne.

Then they contested an epic semi-final against Downe House. The teams were deadlocked at 4-4 when the final whistle blew, forcing overtime – and Benenden scored the ‘golden goal’ to progress to the final.

Scarlett Johnson was named best midfielder in the competition and also took home the Vivien Jones Memorial Award for the most valuable player, while Eliza White was the best attacker.

Benenden’s 2nd XII came third in their -competition after a narrow 1-0 defeat in their semi-final against St Paul’s Girl’s School.

Louise Hall, Director of Sport, Fitness and Wellbeing at the school, said: “I’m extremely proud of the girls and our staff, who have worked so very hard for this success.

“All those training sessions have paid off – and their resolve and resilience shone through. They kept their heads up during a tough second morning of competition and then turned in their strongest performances when it mattered most.”

The captain, Freya Hopkisson, who has been picked to play for England in a tournament running alongside this summer’s World Cup, said: “I can’t believe it. We’d had a fantastic season, beating all our main rivals, so it just came down to performing on the day.

“I’m so incredibly proud of the whole team. It feels amazing to be national champions!”