After a 3-year absence, Varsity Hockey returned in a reduced format, but one that offered everyone a glimpse into the quality of the tertiary hockey sides in the country. The format being a straight knock out put immense pressure on all teams as an immediate stumble would be a final stumble.
Women’s Semi-Final 1
Tuks vs. Kosvies
The 2019 defending champions and hosts Tuks were the favourites for this game and their International laden side took charge of the game from the start. They dominated circle entries, outcomes, shots and goals, possession and probably even the parking lot. What they were unable to do was dominate the score line as a resolute defensive performance, largely inspired by goalkeeper Hartley, kept the star studded Tuks side at bay. The game would go to a penalty shootout to decide the finalists.
At the end of the day the quality of the hosts shone through winning the shootout 3-1 with Amelie Claasen in goal proving to be the hero as she denied 3 Kosvies strikers.
FINAL Score – Tuks (3) 0-0 (1) UFS
Women’s Semi-Final 2
Maties vs. NWU
A far less cagey affair greeted us in the second semi-final. Maties, who have just won the Western Province club league were looking to continue their league form in the Varsity Hockey event. They were ahead with a two-point field goal from Ongi Mali who converted with some sorcery behind her back after wonderful work from Kayla de Waal.
A penalty corner bullet from van Biljoen halved the deficit as the ladies from Potchefstroom looked to turn the match on its head. Despite their best efforts, including a short period when Maties had just 6 players on the park, they could not breach the maroon wall. Caylin Maree essentially settled the game with a sublime solo effort (They will make documentaries about this goal in future). Further gloss was added to the score line by two-point field goals by Kayla de Waal and Rebecca Kapp.
Final Score – Maties 8-1 NWU
Men’s Semi-Final 1
UJ vs. Wits
The two Johannesburg sides got their first Varsity Hockey adventure in four years slightly postponed as load shedding interrupted proceedings. When they did come out there was a lot of bite in one of the biggest derbies in South African Hockey. Wits have had the upper hand in recent seasons and led through a goal from Namibian International Liam Hermanus whose reaction finish was of international standard, giving Wits a 2-0 lead.
UJ managed to strike back through a penalty corner with excessive force that bundled its way over the line for Dechlan Bennett, halving the deficit. They were rocked though by a Michael van den Berg field goal just after the half-time break that stretched the lead to 4-1. Instead of breaking the resolve of UJ, it appeared to inspire them and Kenoe Christians scored one of the fine strikes in Varsity Hockey history. He picked up the ball, created his own space and finished with the precision of a professional Darts Player.
Unfortunately for UJ it was to be only a consolation as the game was put to bed by a 5th and final goal for Wits, a rocket from Luke Lourens that would make Thor the god of Thunder proud.
Final Score: Wits 5-3 UJ
Maties vs. Tuks
Both sides featured some top-quality players as they lined up for the final game of the day. It was Tuks though who made the quality count almost immediately when they struck through Jared Campbell after a slalom freestyling run from Brad Sherwood. The goal gave the hosts a 2-0 lead that would last exactly 15 minutes.
At almost the same time of the second quarter as the first a goal was scored. Rohniel Terblanche threw his body on the line to keep an errant ball in play, his wonderful efforts were rewarded with an opportunity popping up to captain Peter Jarvis. The young man who has just been called up to the SA national squad made no mistake with a deft touch to level the match.
As the titanic tussle between two thought leading coaches continued to play out it felt like a game that was destined to find its ending in a penalty shootout. Fortunately for the hosts that feeling was about as correct as my lotto numbers every week.
From a penalty corner the ball struck a defender on the line, Guy Morgan converted the stroke and minutes later Trevor de Lora got the days first Power Play goal to put the game to bed, with a warm blanket and a story.
Final Score: Tuks 5-2 Maties
The women’s hockey final between Maties and Tuks will take place on 6 October at 15:00
The men’s hockey final between Tuks and Wits will take place on 6 October at 18:30
Both games will be at TuksHockey Astro and broadcast live on SuperSport