The fifth season of Varsity Hockey got underway this past weekend in Stellenbosch at the Maties Astro turf. Proudly sponsored by Samsung, FNB and Mugg & Bean; this year’s Varsity Hockey sees the women do battle for the coveted title. The ladies from the University of Stellenbosch (Maties) are the only unbeaten side heading into the second leg at the North West University (NWU-Pukke).
Pukke captain Jessica de Bruyn-Smith welcomes the pressure of playing in front of their home crowd.
“Teams often feel more pressurised to perform on home soil, but for us it’s something we look forward to,” says de Bruyn-Smith.
Ahead of their final match against Maties in Stellenbosch on Sunday, Pukke were unbeaten following wins against UP-Tuks, defending champions UJ and an opening round victory over Wits. The side from Potchefstroom conceded only four goals in their first three matches. De Bruyn-Smith says that they will approach every game differently and not adopt the same strategy for the remaining round-robin matches.
“We will have a different game-plan for each opposition, but we will have to be more aggressive when we get within striking distance. I feel we have been too nice and need to be more goal-hungry.”
The Maties top the current log on 12 points, three points clear of second placed University of Pretoria (UP-Tuks). Ahead of the final match on Monday 8 May, Maties and Pukke were the only unbeaten sides. If anything can be deducted from the first round of matches, these two sides are the strongest title contenders, along with UP-Tuks who have conceded just one goal in four matches, scoring 35. The Round Four match ended goalless after the fourth and final chukka and a winner was decided in a penalty shootout, between Maties and NWU-Pukke which Maties won, 3-2, to remain the only unbeaten side.
A few formidable combinations and brilliant interplay for Maties proved to be the difference as link Georgia Grobler, forward Tarryn Glasby, midfielder Sandisiwe Tabata and goalkeeper Nicole La Fleur secured a comfortable head start for Maties heading into the Potchefstroom leg. Grobler and Glasby collectively dispatched eight balls in the back of the net. A composed La Fleur ensured that the team from Stellenbosch kept their winning streak alive after she denied the clinical Pukke strikers during the penalty shootout. While both teams are beaming with confidence as they head for Potch, they aren’t naive to ride on the past weekend’s success.
Pukke will face Madibaz on Friday at 18h45, UKZN on Saturday and Kovsies on Sunday while log leaders Maties kick off against UP-Tuks on Friday, Wits at 15h15 on Saturday and UKZN on Sunday.