SPAR KZN School Girls' Hockey Challenge
North Coastal Regionals
Grantleigh College: Saturday 19 May
The final regional of the 2018 SPAR KZN School Girls' Hockey Challenge ended in fine style with Felixton College dethroning three times North Coastal Regional winner, Grantleigh College.
The tournament took the format of a round robin, with six schools from the area represented - defending champions Grantleigh College, Felixton College, Empangeni High School, John Ross College, Mandini Academy and St Catherine’s.
In the finals, Grantleigh took early possession and was abuzz with possibility in the Felixton. Five minutes into the game, Felixton only made their first run at the hosts goals. The remainder of the first half was a fast flowing game with both teams having an unsuccessful go at goals. After the first fifteen minutes the cliff-hanger game was sitting at nil nil.
Felixton had four short corners in the first half, the first quickly resulted in a Grantleigh foot halting play and the corner being retaken and easily cleared. The third and fourth followed in almost identical fashion. The glue for the Felixton team, Kayla Jansen misfired two reverse stick shots that rolled slowly to the keeper. Jansen started the game playing more of a defence role, but for the final 15 minutes, moved to a more attacking spot.
Ninety seconds into the second half, Josie Pilton was standing just off the Grantleigh right hand post and received a pass from the right-hand side of the field. Pilton slotted the ball in low and left and opened the account for Felixton.
Jansen made some breaks down the right of the field, either running out of space, or not finding support but her ignited runs sparked her team as they started to dominate the second half. With seven and a quarter minutes remaining, Pilton was again lurking in a similar spot as the ball came from the right side, a toppling Pilton slapped the ball in securing both her and her team’s second goal.
The defending champs, Grantleigh only managed to get into the Felixton half twice in the last 150 seconds of the game but both of their runs were quickly snubbed out by a confident back line of Felixton.
In the round robin stage, Grantleigh took the win over Felixton, with Grace Ash finding the back of the net mere seconds before the final whistle.
Coach for the winning team Megan Campbell says “The SPAR challenge was, and always is, a well run tournament, where the girls get to have fun as well as compete competitively. This year, going into finals the girls were nervous but calm. They wanted to win and knew they had to work hard in order to achieve their dream. For me as coach, the girls getting the experience of winning this tournament means so much."
Garth Bishop coach for Grantleigh says "It was a tough day today with all the teams vying for the title and the extra pressure that comes with being defending champs. We had a number of tough games in the round robin stages but managed to make it through to the finals unbeaten. Unfortunately, we couldn’t maintain our run in the final and lost a hard fought game to Felixton who ended as worthy winners. As always teams from our area tend to struggle against the bigger schools in KZN but I feel that Felixton have the quality in their side to maybe cause an upset or two in the Grand Finals.”
The other two teams that were both so close to making the final were four times regional winner, Empangeni High School and the team from St Catherine's who have quietly improved each year. Both of these teams ended their day on 11 points with the bronze placing being decided on goal difference. Empangeni ended their round robin games with 11 goals compared to St Catherine’s who notched up 10 goals, meaning the Empangeni claimed the third place.
Six teams met in the picturesque setting of Grantleigh, where round robin games of 23 minutes were played. The teams took to the fields for two 11 minutes halves and had a minute to swop sides. Winning teams earned 4 points, teams that drew with goals earned 2 points and a goalless draw got them 1 point. A loss obviously resulted in no points.
One of the hardest working umpires on the day was no nonsense, Neville van den Berg who officiated all but a handful of games, a former pupil at John Ross College he was there representing St Catherine’s. The Most Promising Umpire award went to young up-and-coming Marnus Engelbrecht who was representing Mandini High School.
The final spot for the Grand Finals has been decided, Felixton College join nine other regional champions at the Grand Finals that will take place at St Mary's DSG in Kloof on 21 and 22 July.
The regional champions that will be playing for the main title at the Grand Finals in the eighth SPAR KZN School Girls' Challenge are Durban Girls' College (8th appearance); St Mary's, St Anne's and Ferrum Hoerskool (7th appearance); King Edward High School and Amanzimtoti High (4th Appearance); Epworth School, Greytown High School and Felixton College (Newcomers).
For more info like the tournament's Facebook page.
1 Felixton College, 2 Grantleigh College, 3 Empangeni High School, 4 St Catherine's, 4 Mandini Academy, 5 John Ross College