Clarendon High kept their composure under intense pressure to shade Hudson Park for the top spot in the East London Coastal leg of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge at Cambridge yesterday.
The defending regional champions, who won the provincial title in 2017, had to come back from 2-0 down in the 20-minute final to level at 2-2 in the dying seconds of the game.
That took the teams into a penalty shootout, which Clarendon claimed 3-2 after some tense moments to qualify for the provincial finals in Gqeberha on August 13 and 14.
Clarendon, who also defeated Hudson in the last EL Coastal tournament final in 2019, will join DSG (PE Inland), Collegiate (PE Coastal) and Outeniqua (Southern Cape) in the provincial playoffs.
Tournament director Bev Forword said the final could not have been more exciting.
“Hudson opened the scoring with a great field goal by their captain Litho Tyalantsika. Soon after that they converted an excellent short corner variation through Jodie October to go 2-0 up.
“Late in the game Clarendon, who had played some excellent hockey, were rewarded with a short corner, which captain Caitlyn Farrer converted with a powerful strike into the left corner.
“This gave them the motivation to press hard and with just a few seconds remaining on the clock they got another short corner, which Kate van Heerden converted with a flick high in the left corner.
“So it went down to the penalty shootout, but it really was a super final.”
Forword added that the teams had produced top-quality hockey during the day.
“There really was some brilliant hockey considering that these girls have been in the woods for two years,” she said. “A lot of them haven’t had competitive hockey for a long time and we were very impressed with the standard.
“It was another beautiful day of schoolgirls’ hockey, with Cambridge being fantastic hosts and both players and supporters enjoying the occasion.”
In the pool A matches, Clarendon were clearly the best side with Stirling second, Grens third and Greenpoint just being edged into fourth on goal difference, said Forword.
“Pool B saw Hudson end on top with the next three teams all having one win each. The Invitation team were placed fourth and Cambridge and Merrifield tied on goal difference, but Cambridge took second spot as they beat Merrifield in the pool game.”
Cambridge were commended for their spirit during the day.
Playoff results: 7th: Invitation beat Greenpoint 5-0, 5th: Grens drew with Merrifield 0-0, 3rd: Cambridge beat Stirling 1-0.
The final regional leg of the tournament will take place in Queenstown on Sunday.