While his team were celebrating their Varsity Hockey final win all around him, NWU coach Shaun Hulley took a moment to reflect on their successful 2019 campaign.
“This is amazing,” Hulley told SuperSportTV post match. “It’s been a tough couple of months for us as we’ve been going since January and putting a lot of work in. But we had a squad of 23 girls and even for those who aren’t here [at the final] I think it’s just as special as it is for the girls who are here.
Hulley talked up the final itself, which ended goalless before NWU claimed the penalty shootout 2-1.
“It’s one for the memory banks, I think it was an awesome game and I think we’re going to enjoy [celebrating it] – it’s going to be lekker.
“Both teams had opportunities and I think both teams missed some. When it came down to the shootout we knew that our goalkeeper [Mishka Ellis] is pretty special and that she was definitely going to save one or two… then obviously one or two just had to put the ball away.”
Considering how the match unfolded, NWU didn’t seem to be too daunted by having to play the final away from home in Stellenbosch – where they had lost a penalty shootout during the 2017 tournament.
“You can only control what you can control. Lucky we play on artificial surfaces and the surfaces are pretty much the same [notably both universities have upgraded their astroturfs ahead of this year]. Maties had a good crowd out here, so it was tough, but we just decided that we’d play our game and what must happen will happen.”
While none of the NWU players claimed any of the end-of-tournament player awards, Hulley credited them for their efforts but also reserved praise for those who’ve supported him.
“The girls are special as they ran really hard, and we also have an amazing group of staff behind the scenes which not many people know about. They put in lots and lots of hours, and I have to say thanks to them because it definitely couldn’t have happened with me alone,” Hulley concluded.
With their win, NWU confined Maties to back-to-back Varsity Hockey women’s final losses and put to bed memories of the inaugural tournament in 2013, when they finished top of the log but lost to their Stellenbosch rivals in the final.
Players: 1. Caitlin Grant (GK), 2. Mishka Ellis (GK), 5. Jessica de Bruyn-Smith, 6. Kirsty Adams, 7. Miecke Flemming, 8. Mia Barnard, 9. Adelaide Siddell, 10. Meeghan Klomp, 11. Kelsey Minnaar, 12. Charné Maddocks (captain), 13. Carli Pretorius, 14. Clarise Smit, 15. Courtney du Preez, 16. Candice Silent, 17. Chanté Ferreira, 18. Sherine Ledwaba, 19. Saré Laubscher, 20. Anneke Beukman, 21. Carli Rheeder, 22. Jacolene McLaren, 23. Kutlwano Moshugi, 24. Christa Ramasimong.
Staff: Shaun Hulley (head coach), Nelson Komane-Nel (assistant coach), Johan Jacobs (team manager), Conrad Nienaber (video analyst), Elaine Burger (physiotherapist), Elmien Marais (fitness trainer).