SPAR KZN School Girls’ Hockey Challenge
Westville Girls’ High School: Sunday 6 May
Maintaining their reign, St Mary’s DSG defended their title in the Highway Regional of the SPAR KZN School Girls’ Hockey Challenge in a hard-fought battle against hosts, Westville Girls High School.
Saints added to their six titles in this regional when they managed to defeat Westville in a riveting final that concluded in a penalty shootout. Saints opened up their account with their first goal smashed in after 66 seconds of play, by a powerful shot by ace striker, Kiana-Che Cormack. The ball was pushed right from the castle to Cormack who controlled the ball and then sent it flying.
Saints camped out around the Westville circle, earning themselves another two short corners that were both defended. They also had three shots at goal that Westville dealt with valiantly. With 95seconds remaining in the first half Tayla Thwaits found herself unmarked in front of the goals, spun around controlling the ball to the left of her, and slipped the ball in with a cheeky shot notching up the second goal for Saints.
Saints continued dominating the final with their fourth short corner that Westville again defended. In a moment of brilliance, Kerryn Swanepoel ignited her Westville team with a solo run down the left, leaving Saints scrambling with only two defenders still at the back. Swanepoel weaved around the first, dodging the second but the first Saints defender chopped Swanepoel’s stick. Standing on the spot, no-nonsense umpire Mike Lees split his arms indicating a penalty flick for Westville. A calm Swanepoel stepped up to the p spot and slotted in her shot into the top left corner.
Four minutes later, the amped Swanepoel charged down the right of the field surging towards the Saints circle. Swanepoel made a dash for the goals but was forced out of play by a harsh shoulder charge from St Marys, resulting in her second penalty flick that she bravely converted, levelling the score at 2 a piece.
The game then progressed to three players from both teams taking an eight second penalty shootout. After three rounds, both teams only managed to slot in one goal each, meaning the score line was still level pegged at 1-1. The finals then went to a sudden death, with the same three players stepping up to the spot for another chance. Two more rounds were played with no winner being revealed, then Leah Piggot managed to slot her shot in, going 1 up for Saints, earning her team the win and the regional title for 2018.
Special mention must go to the Westville keeper, Saiyuri Govender for her fearless display on the line throughout the game, bravely standing tall surge after surge of Saints powerful attacks.
Saints are the eighth team to head to the Grand Finals that they will be hosting on 21 and 22 July. The girls will be making their seventh appearance at the Grand Finals where they are also the overall defending champs from 2017.
Manager for the St Mary’s Malcolm Reeders said “The tournament is always a highlight on the school girl hockey calendar. Winning the finals today was a fantastic end to the day after all the pressure for us to hold on to the title. There was some fantastic hockey played today. But was a case of a tale of two halves, as at half time we were two up and then after half time, Westville managed to equalize. Our penalty takers were brilliantly composed during the shootout."
Ryan Lees, coach for Westville Girls High said, “It was a smoothly run tournament, but it was hard to perform consistently in all the games. Our team did themselves proud by coming back after being 2 down at half time, to equalize and then take it through to sudden death."
They join Ferrum Hoërskool (Northern KZN); newcomers Epworth School (PMB Central Regional); St Anne’s DSG (PMB Northern Regional); Durban Girls’ College (DBN Central Regional); Amanzimtoti High School (DBN South Regional); Our Lady of Fatima (DBN North Regional); and King Edward High School (Southern KZN Regional).
For more info like the tournament’s Facebook page.
1 St Mary’s DSG, 2 Westville Girls’ High School, 3 Thomas More College, 4 Hillcrest High School, 5 Kloof High School, 6 Curro Hillcrest