Much like the final game in Stellenbosch last week, the winner of the opening match of the second leg of the Varsity Hockey tournament in Potchefstroom was decided in a penalty shootout.
The exciting match on Friday 12 May set the standard for the weekend, as University of Witwatersrand (Wits) outclassed defending champions University of Johannesburg (UJ) to secure their fourth win in succession, winning 4-3 on penalties.
UJ headed into the encounter as the underdogs after only winning one of their four matches in Stellenbosch last week, while Wits bagged three wins from their four matches. The lead exchanged hands twice as UJ took the lead courtesy of an Ashley Datnow field goal, before Wits levelled matters via a field goal of their own, from SA U21 Nicky Veto, in the third chukka.
The action really got going in the final quarter and shortly after the Witsies opening goal, they took the lead for the first time with a moment of class from Vicky Jonker, making it 4-2 to Wits with less than 10 minutes remaining.
A P-flick from Kristen Paton during the Powerplay for UJ took the Gauteng derby to a penalty shootout. In a fiercely contested fight, UJ enjoyed a slender 2-0 lead at half-time. The defending champions UJ were made hard to work for their opening goal scored by Ashleigh Datnow.
Witsies seemed set for their fourth straight win, but there was still fight left in the defending champions. SA U21 player Kristen Paton, scored from the spot during the Powerplay, taking the match to a penalty shootout.
The shootout went the way of Wits following some brilliant stick work from the Witsies. This win hands Wits their fourth consecutive victory and with that they are joint leaders with Maties, who have a game in hand, on 12 points.
Mugg & Bean Star Saver: Petro Stofberg (Wits)
FNB Player of the Match: Nicky Veto (Wits)
UJ: 4 (3)
Goals: Ashley Datnow (Field Goal), Kristen Paton (P-Flick during Powerplay)
Wits: 4 (4)
Goals: Nicky Veto (Field Goal), Vickey Jonker (Field Goal)
UJ: Robyn Ormond (GK), Isabella Da Rocha, Lanne Rossouw, Ashleigh Datnow, Kristen Paton, Lisa Hawker, Alex Kavanagh, Jivanka Kruger, Kerry Trebble, Carmen Smith, Cheneal Raubenheimer
Subs: Yonela Dishi, Jenevieve Taljaard, Phia Gerber, Bernice Brink, Nadia Mattana, Erin Moody, Zeena Martin
Wits: Petro Stofberg, Gillian Robertson, Sissy Pieterse, Nicky Veto, Ash Redhead, Londeka Dlamini, Nompilo Thenjwayo, Nicole Smith, Kelly Wrensch, Lezaan Janse van Vuuren, Vicky Jonker
Subs: Nolwazi Ngubane, Lelethu Ndakisa, Robyn Fyrie, Mandisa Sigudla, Amber Dry, Jureya Dildar, Tamsin Copeland
By Lyndon Julius