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The wait is finally over, with the first of ten regional competitions for the SPAR KZN Schoolgirls’ Hockey Challenge officially kicking off in Newcastle on Saturday, 26 February 2022.
Local school Ferrum High School hosted eight teams for the Northern KZN Regional. The schools were divided into two pools for the day, with the hosts leading Pool A.
Ferrum took on St Dominics Newcastle, Newcastle High, and the visiting Pongola High School. In Pool B, the previous winner, Sarel Cilliers, defended against Pionier Hoërskool, Dundee High School and Vryheid High School.
The first 18 games put host Ferrum against the tenacious St Dominics Newcastle, who advanced to the regional final in 2020.
The pool games were all 20 minutes one-way running time, with a win earning four points, a draw with goals – two points, a goalless draw – one point and a loss of zero points.
While all teams performed excellently during the tournament, a sparkling performance by Ferrum High School and Pionier Hoërskool entertained the crowds in a riveting final.
After 20 minutes of spectacular hockey, the game ended in a goalless draw, with the final heading to a penalty shootout.
In a moment of pure magic, Pionier’s Chezaan van Rensburg lifted the ball as soon as the whistle blew, in a surreal display of talent, bounced the ball on her stick as she made her way calmly towards the goals.
Flummoxing Ferrum’s keeper, Clarisse Whitehead, van Rensburg steadied herself and then beautifully looped the ball over the advancing defender’s head. In these 8 seconds of sheer brilliance, van Rensburg gave Pionier the edge and eventually the winning goal.
Chatting post-match, van Rensburg shared, “This is my first time that I did the overhead in a tournament, I wasn’t nervous in the moment because I knew that God was with me and He knows the way.”
Pioneer’s Zendi Zondo, who mostly had a quiet tournament at the back, stood firm in her three rounds against Ferrum’s attack in the shootout, keeping a clean scoresheet.
Captain for Pionier, Tarien Davel stated, “At the beginning we were a little bit scared, so we put everything in. We didn’t do so well in the first round but then we built ourselves up and at the end, we just enjoyed ourselves and put our minds to the game doing the best that we could. I am so proud of these girls; they really did amazing. The final was tough, but it was nice hockey, I loved it.”
Speaking about van Rensburg’s audacious move, she said, “We have seen her do it before and as soon as I saw her do it today, I knew we were going to win. I have so much faith in her, she always does those moves and we are so proud of her.”
The top goal scorer from their five runs on the Astro went to Annari Roos from Ferrum, who tried valiantly in the final to add to her five goals but just wasn’t able to beat the strong backline of Pionier.
Roos, a Grade 11 player who dreams of playing for the KZN Inland team, enthused after the game, “The tournament allows you to try new things, learn new stuff and move forward as a team. Even though we lost, we had a fun tournament.”
Leading up to the finals, Ferrum went one-nil up in the first semi-final, working hard in their opposition, Dundee High School’s circle, with three short corners and several searching shots.
Striker for the hosts, Annari Roos, added four goals to her tally, including a hattrick in her final pool game. Roos, the Ferrum Striker, fired in her fifth goal for the day after 8 minutes of play from the top of the D, giving them a spot in the regional final.
Hardworking, Chardeney Beamson also had a couple of unsuccessful attempts.
Pionier made the ball do the work in their semi-final with some excellent, silky skills earning two goals against St Dominics Newcastle. On both occasions, the visiting team had breakaways down the right, with a quick ball into the circle, finding their player camped on the post who easily tapped the ball in. The left link slotted the first goal, Johanné Smith, and the second goal knocked in by the left striker, Mieke Steenkamp.
At the conclusion of the pool games, host school Ferrum were the table-toppers in pool A with 9 points, followed by St Dominics Newcastle with 6 points. Newcastle High ended third with two points and late entry, Vryheid Landbou with 1 point.
In pool B, it went down to goal difference between the top two teams, Dundee High School and Pionier Hoërskool, who ended on 5 points after their two games. Pionier got a handful of goals in their final match, while Dundee didn’t manage to break through the Sarel Cilliers defence.
Final standings Pionier Hoërskool in first with 9 points, Dundee High School on 5 points, Vryheid High School on 4 points and Sarel Cilliers with 0 points.
Umpire of the Day went to Dave Pinder from Sarel Cilliers.
Overall Results in order:
- Pionier Hoërskool
- Ferrum Hoërskool
- Dundee High School
- St Dominics Newcastle
- Vryheid High School
- Newcastle High School
- Sarel Cilliers High School
- Vryheid Landbou High School
Pionier Hoërskool is the first team to guarantee their spot at the Grand Finals at St Mary’s DSG in Kloof in July. This coming weekend, the next two Regional takes place in Pietermaritzburg, with St John’s hosting the PMB Central and St Anne’s in Hilton welcomes teams for the PMB North Regional.
What are your thoughts on the SPAR KZN Schoolgirls’ Hockey Challenge? Share your views in the comment section below.