BEN Rhydding’s Under-18 Girls had good reason to celebrate this weekend, winning the North Indoor Championships to qualify for the National Finals for the second year running.

Yorkshire rivals Thirsk provided a stern test in the opening game as Rhydding started nervously and Thirsk closed down the channels, giving Nisha Cant and Izzy Weir few outlets from defence.

The indoor game presents many different challenges and Thirsk were well drilled, thwarting Rhydding’s attempts to drive through their defensive unit.

Ultimately, it was goals from Rafa Brandao-Lee (2) and Lucy Williams which secured the points in a 3-1 victory, but Rhydding knew they would need to up their game for the rest of the tournament.

Going 2-0 behind in the next match to Brooklands proved to be the perfect wake-up call for the Ilkley side, who moved up a gear and started moving the ball confidently.

Kirsty McMillan opened the scoring with her first touch, before five goals from four different strikers put the game out of reach of Brooklands.

Rhydding were now the team to beat, and Doncaster came out strongly, but faced an ever improving side. The pick of the goals in a 3-1 win came from a pinpoint Becky Hadfield deflection, after some great team passing out of defence.

Three wins from three, but the Ilkley outfit had arguably two of the strongest sides still to play, so Ben Rhydding knew they needed to bring their ‘A’ game to face Fylde, also unbeaten on the day.

An exhilarating performance followed, as Ben Rhydding opened the scoring within seconds and went on to dominate.

Fluid passing and movement off the ball allowed Fylde no time to react. Nine goals from five different players showed the strength in depth of the Rhydding squad, as Freya Bellamy (2) and Rachel Scott added their names to the scoresheet.

Nationals qualification was therefore secured, but Ben Rhydding still needed to beat fellow qualifiers Bowdon in order to take the North title.

They maintained their focus and dealt capably with Bowdon’s determined attack. Cant, Weir and Evie Malir marshalled the defence confidently, with goalkeeper Sophie Dale capping a fine tournament with some smart reaction saves.

Williams (2) and Brandao-Lee secured the 3-1 victory which saw Ben Rhydding take the North U18 championship once again. The squad now look forward to National Finals in Croydon in January.