KZN Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge 2023

KZN schoolgirls hockey

Making a welcome return, Pietermaritzburg Girls High School earned the title of champions in the Pietermaritzburg Central Regional at the SPAR KZN Schoolgirls’ Hockey Challenge that took place at Epworth School on Sunday 14 May.

SPAR KZN Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge 2023

In an absolute thriller of a final, Girls’ High met local rivals, St John’s D.S.G. in a fast flowing, hotly contested 18 minutes. Having met earlier in the day in the round robin stages, Girls’High took the win by the slimmest of margins, netting 1 goal to St John’s zero. Both teams shone in all aspects in the concluding game, with the earlier result not phasing the defending champions, St John’s. They came out firing on all cylinders, on the back of two great results leading up to the regional final but in their early attacks, didn’t discover any gaps in the solid backline of Girls’ High.

Having played superbly throughout the day, Girls’ High eased into the final, gathering their composure. After 2 minutes, Girls’ High were awarded a free hit outside their opponent’s circle after a great run down the left hand side. St John’s didn’t falter in their first real call to defend, calmly standing strong as Girls’ High had a few attempts to pierce the circle.

Nearing midway of the game, St John’s gaining momentum, retaliated with a decent advance down the right, earning a long corner that sadly didn’t amount to anything. 20 seconds later, they won the first set piece of the game. In their short corner, St John’s changed up their play, pushing the ball wide of the castle, then slapping it goalwards. An alert backline shut down the shot and with amazing skill, catapulted the game to their forwards that were lurking high up unmarked.

St John’s scrambling to defend, gave away a short corner. Girls’ High wasted no energy, sending the ball to the castle with it being flicked ferociously. Goalkeeper for St John’s, Jude Meklenborg was called into duty, halting the shot. Girls’ High followed up whipping in a forceful slap, again St John’s stood strong. Bouncing on the loose ball, Girls’ High snapped up their third chance but unfortunately in the hustle for possession, kicked the ball, giving St John’s a breather.

The game continued to zip from side to side with both teams giving it their all. 18 minutes later, with several attempts on either end, the game was all tied up on nil nil. The final moved to the penalty spot with the responsibility of winning the game falling on three players from each team in a penalty shoot-out.

St John’s took the first rolling penalty with Caitlin Cotterill running the ball straight down the middle as Girls’ High’s keeper Kelly Willson edged forward. Metres apart, Cotterill pulled the ball right as Willson launched herself left. Balanced on her right foot, Cotterill firmly sent her shot in but watched as the ball flew wide of the goals. Next to go, Nonky Thamahane from Girls’ High veered right as she entered the circle. Meklenborg came out calmly, cutting down the angle for Thamahane who knocked in her attempt but the ball went crashing into Meklenborg’s pads and rolled out.

With the score still on nil nil, Glen McDonald charged in, opting to head left. Again, Willson advanced quickly meeting McDonald midway in the circle. In a beautifully choreographed dance, the two shimmied along from side to side before McDonald tried to spin away from her shadow, trying to scoop the ball in but Willson not allowing her any room, slapped the ball out of her possession as the 8 second whistle blasted.

Khanya Bekizulu from Girls’ High pushed right as she entered the circle then changed course, keeping the ball firmly on her stick as she managed to round a diving Meklenborg and calmly ran the ball into the goals, giving her team a one goal advantage.

Going last for St John’s, Chloe Dellar drifted right in her run, as she was met with Willson who for the third time had rushed off her line. Willson was a jack in the box, as she shut down Dellar’s slap, landing on her knees. The ball ricocheting kindly for Dellar, allowed her to follow up with her attempt. Picking the ball up near the baseline, she ran it back in as a full stretched dive Willson cut off her clear path goalwards. Rounding the sprawled keeper, Dellar dribbled the ball around to the front but an agile Willson rolled over in lightning quick speed, scrambling as she swung her stick around and amazingly intercepting the ball in a regional tournament winning save.

The Most Promising Umpire award went to Bongie Zuma from Carter High School.

For the seventh time, Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High hoisted the Pietermaritzburg Central Regional trophy, after a six year break. They are the ninth team to earn a spot at the Grand Finals that will take place at St Mary’s DSG in Kloof in July. They will meet nine other KZN Regional champions representing their area at the concluding tournament. The teams that have already reserved their place are Danville Park Girls High School (Durban North Regional); St Mary’s DSG (Highway Regional); Kuswag Hoërskool (Durban South Regional), Durban Girls’ College (Durban Central Regional); The Wykeham Collegiate (Pietermaritzburg North Regional); Suid Natal Hoërskool (Sisonke and uGu Regional); St Dominics Newcastle (Northern KZN Regional) and Ladysmith High School (uMvoti and oThukela Regional).

The final regional tournament in the challenge, the North Coast Regional will take place at Grantleigh College on Saturday 20 May.

Next weekend’s action and the Grand Finals will all be livestreamed on the SuperSport School’s mobile app and website. Action from this weekend will be aired on channel 216 on SuperSport.

For more info like the tournaments’ Facebook page (SparSchoolGirlsHockeyTournament) or follow on Instagram (sparkznhockey).

Round Robin Results

1 Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School 21 pts; 2 St John’s D.S.G. 17pts; 3 Epworth School 17pts; 4 Carter High School 9pts; 5 Alexander High School 5pts; 6 Maritzburg Christian School 4pts; 7 Alexander High School 1pt

Regional Final Result

Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School 0 (1) vs St John’s D.S.G. 0 (0)

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