Collegiate High dug deep to defeat Clarendon in the final of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge to lift their second title in the provincial competition in Gqeberha yesterday.
A lone strike by Clarendon’s Braunwyn Martin was sandwiched by two field goals from Lily Sharp as the hosts, also the overall champions in 2016, won a well-contested encounter 2-1.
The event saw hundreds of schoolgirls around the Eastern and Southern Cape regions receive exposure at a wider level.
In addition, it provides a platform for aspiring female umpires. This weekend’s matches, played on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, were controlled by an all-women’s team of four officials for the first time.
When the dust had settled after the round-robin matches, Clarendon and Collegiate emerged as the top two sides.
The East London team were the favourites on paper after beating the hosts in a schools derby on Friday as well as in their round-robin game on the weekend.
They also spent a good part of the 25-minute final in Collegiate’s half but, besides Martin’s goal in the 13th minute, were unable to capitalise fully on a wind-swept day.
Collegiate found the back of the net in the eighth and 14th minutes and then stood firm when Clarendon forced two penalty corners late in the match.
Afterwards Collegiate captain Isabella Bisdee, 18, who was not able to play at the weekend due to injury, said they knew they would be in for a tough encounter against their close rivals.
“We always thought it would be tight because of what happened in our previous matches, so it was satisfying to end off the season with a win. It definitely was a good final,” she said.
“We were really hungry for the victory to prove that we could win the hockey challenge, and I think we showed that on the field.”
Vice-captain Simone Venter, in Grade 12, paid tribute to the matrics in their team, as well as to SPAR for its sponsorship.
“For our matrics we wanted to give it our all and I think we left everything out there on the field,” said the 17-year-old.
“It’s also so nice to have SPAR supporting women’s hockey. This tournament provides a great environment and it’s an awesome opportunity for players to get recognition through the regional events.”
SPAR EC sponsorship and events manager Alan Stapleton said the tournament was about making memories, while he encouraged the girls to keep playing sport.
“Thanks very much to all of you who played, especially DSG [from Makhanda] who joined us in their holidays. And especially to those girls in matric, we hope you leave us with great memories.
“I urge you not to stop playing sport because it is the one thing where you can make friends, and the people sitting next to you now will be your friends for life. To the girls who are staying, we will see you next year.
Stapleton thanked the players for competing in the spirit SPAR would like them to.
“We are a family-orientated company and this tournament is focused on fun and happiness.
“You have embraced that ethos without losing the competitive edge. It really has been a wonderful two days.”
The regional champions that contested the provincial finals were Collegiate, Clarendon (champions in 2017), DSG, Outeniqua and Queenstown Girls’ High.