A golden double for the hosts marked a wonderful return to the turf for Varsity Hockey. Absence most definitely made the heart grow fonder!
Men’s Final: Tuks vs. Wits
It may have been four years, but Tuks came into the tournament as the defending champions having won the title in 2018. For Wits qualification for the final already gave them their best return in Varsity Hockey history, that wouldn’t be enough though for the men in yellow.
The opening quarter though could not have started worse for the visitors as a dominating opening quarter saw their captain Guy Morgan convert not once, but twice from a penalty corner to make it 2-0 to the hosts.
Wits though came out firing in the second quarter and started to work their way back into the game. They did exactly that when Luke Lourens netted from a penalty corner, and they were given another huge momentum boost when Mark Strickett saved from a stroke denying Guy Morgan a hat trick.
That momentum was rewarded when Wits equalized through captain Brad Riley converted from a quick-thinking penalty corner. But the momentum pendulum swung again when Brad Sherwood executed a perfect penalty corner for Tuks to lead 3-2 going into the final quarter.
Sherwood made it 4-2 with a powerful strike that was overturned on a referral, but Morgan completed his hat-trick to get that score line minutes later. But with 7 minutes remaining the gap was halved again by a Michael Horan bullet. With two power plays still to come!
There was however no change to the scores and Tuks defended their crown to be champions of Varsity Hockey once again.
Final Score: Tuks 4-3 Wits
Women’s Final: Tuks vs. Maties
The 2013 winners Maties took on the hosts and 2017 winners Tuks in front of a capacity crowd at the University of Pretoria. Maties had dismissed the defending champions NWU in the semi-finals with relative ease while Tuks had been taken to a shootout by UFS having been unable to find the net in 60 minutes of action.
They only took 60 seconds to find the net in the final though as a speculative through ball was deftly finished home by Bulelwa Mzimela. Her touch was so precise that the umpire referred to it just to make sure. 2-0 to the hosts in as many minutes.
Maties had to work their way back into the game and found themselves level with a wonderful individual effort from the mighty impressive Rebecca Kaps. The goal will go in coaching videos for a focus on the determination.
Maties persistence and dominance were starting to tell, and their pressure saw a penalty stroke awarded which Mikkela le Roux finished off superbly. 3-2 the maroon army led heading into the final two minutes. Tuks called the Power Play and put immense pressure on the Maties defence and were rewarded with a penalty stroke with 60 seconds on the clock. Captain Tegan Fourie stood up and led her team with glory with a double goal due to the power play that sent the fans crazy in the stands!
Tuks are the champions of the Varsity Hockey Women’s Tournament.
Final Score: Tuks 4-3 Maties
Men’s Third Place Playoff: Maties vs. UJ
Two-time winners UJ were disappointed to miss out on the final, but they wanted to take home the bronze medal. They met a fired-up Maties side though who roared into a 3-0 lead early on thanks to a Jacques van Tonder penalty corner and a two-point field goal by Ben Proctor.
The Orange Army though fought back and pulled a single goal back through Dechlan Bennett from a Penalty Corner, continuing a good two days for him. They then pulled level as Kenoe Christians dived spectacularly onto the ball to slide home.
But it was Maties who had the last laugh. They first had a goal disallowed on review before Kenton Melville finished an instinctive opportunity for the double goal and the last defining moment of an enthralling game.
Final Score: Maties 5-3 UJ
Women’s Third Place Playoff: UFS vs. NWU
Both sides would have harboured ambitions far loftier than the bronze medal but would want to end the tournament on a high by winning the opening game of the final day of action.
After an incredibly tentative and cagey affair, North West University finally broke the deadlock just before the halftime break. A brilliant referral saw a penalty corner upgraded to a penalty stroke which captain Kirsty Adams finished emphatically for a 1-0 lead.
It was a lead they would never look back on as Christa Ramasimong, another player named in the South African squads, was pulling the strings and made it 2-0 from a penalty corner variation. They put the game to bet through a Tamlyn Kock 2-point field goal and Jacolene Mclaren netting a powerplay penalty corner to make it 6-0 and secure a bronze medal for North West University.
Final Score: NWU 6-0 UFS