Tuks earned their maiden Varsity Hockey title thanks to a Catherine Morris goal as they defeated Maties 1-0 in Pretoria on Monday night.
Tuks definitely used the home support to their advantage. The hosts gained momentum quickly as Natalie Estevez pulled the strings from deep in midfield. Maties had Stephanie Botha and Paige Phillips to thank for keeping a clean sheet.
The first penalty corner was awarded in the 14th minute. Maties slipped it left but Tuks cleared the resulting slap. Just seconds later the second penalty corner was awarded. Tuks were lucky not to concede a P-flick as the ball hit a defender’s leg a metre from the goal with the goal keeper out of position. Tuks defended brilliantly but Maties had another short corner just moments later. A brilliant shot by Tarryn Glasby was deflected wide and there was soon respite for the home side after five minutes spent in the Tuks circle as the first chukka came to an end.
It took just ten seconds for Anél Luus to break through on Maties goal with a back-stick effort going inches wide. The hosts soon forced Nicole la Fleur into a point-blank save and another not long after.
Glasby was put through one-on-one with Marlise van Tonder, but Marissa Poolman came from nowhere to tackle her seconds before she could strike. Another corner for Maties went begging as the match’s frantic pace eased into a steady rhythm just on the half-time buzzer. Both teams must have welcomed the breather and been happy to have clean sheets heading into the third chukka.
Tuks soon took back control in the third chukka. A brilliant move in the 37th minute almost resulted in the opening goal as Danielle Kerdachi displayed a piece of individual brilliance. Her stick work dazzled the Maties defence as she slipped the ball to Amy Etherington, who was open on the penalty spot. But her shot was blocked by La Fleur.
Minutes later, La Fleur kept out for Tuks’ first penalty corner. Estevez’ drag-flick attempt hit the body of Heather McEwan, the first wave, but the score eventually came off their second penalty corner in the 43rd minute. The ball was slipped by Estevez to Catherine Morris, who lashed the ball into the roof of the net. The referee awarded Maties a free hit, judging that the ball was above the backboard off a penalty corner, but Tuks reviewed and the decision was overturned after it became evident that the ball was deflected off a Maties defender’s stick.
Maties had the majority of the possession in the final chukka as they pressed for an equaliser. Tuks were playing the match at a far slower pace, happy to slow things down whenever they had possession.
Maties took their Powerplay in the 64th minute and immediately won a penalty corner. Tarryn Glasby mishit her shot and the ball went wide. Maties were running out of time. They spent the final two minutes of the match with just nine players as Tuks took their Powerplay. Hard as they tried, Maties couldn’t break down the Tuks defence, and in the end, it was Catherine Morris’s goal that made the difference.
FNB Player of the Tournament: Izelle Verster (Tuks)
Mugg & Bean Star Saver of the Tournament: Nicole la Fleur (Maties)
Mugg & Bean Star Saver: Natalie Estevez (Tuks)
FNB Player of the Match: Natalie Estevez (Tuks)
Goals: Catherine Morris (Penalty Corner)
Tuks: Marlise van Tonder, Marissa Poolman, Chané Hill, Anél Luus, Catherine Morris, Izalle Verster, Natalie Esteves, Luvolwethu Nkole, Claire Gibbings, Amy Etherington, Thandokazi Chithi
Subs: Melicia van Loggerenberg, Jénica de Encarnaçăo, Meeghan Scheffer, Danielle Kerdachi, Amoné Mouton, Mabongi Nyalungu
Maties: Nicole la Fleur, Lenta Cullinan, Simone Strydom, Heather McEwan, Paige Phillips, Sandiswe Tabata, Tarryn Glasby, Natasha Rootenberg, Aimee Pote, Page Alcock, Minke van Heerden