The Diocesan School for Girls (DSG) returned to Makhanda (Grahamstown) with the Rustenburg Champions Cup title, after a successful tour. The U16 school girl hockey tournament was held in Cape Town over the weekend of 12-14 April, with 18 schools divided into two pools of 9.
Most of the attending schools were the top hockey playing schools in the Western Cape, with only DSG and Woodridge coming from elsewhere. DSG, who have had an unbeaten start to the season which included the recently held Woodridge Festival, and a win over Collegiate the weekend prior to the tour, travelled to Cape Town full of confidence.
DSG had a slow start to the tournament, which was played in a short fast format of 25 minutes one-way. Two 0-0 draws in their opening three matches put the girls from the Eastern Cape on the back foot. However, they went on to win their remaining five pool games, which included a 1-0 win over Herschel – last years champions, in their final match which secured DSG a spot in Sunday’s Final.
DSG, in fact, went through the entire tournament without conceding a single goal, and after their pool matches they played eight, won six, drew two and did not lose a single match. They scored 23 goals, making DSG the favourites for the final.
In an amazing turn of events, Woodridge, who were in a three way battle with Bloemhof, St Cyprians and themselves for the top spot in pool B, came out on top of the pile, which made the final an all East Cape affair.
The final was a typical cagey encounter, both sides wary of the other and while DSG dominated possession for long phases it was Woodridge whose dangerous counter attacks created problems for the DSG defence. Woodridge created a number of scoring opportunities which they could not convert.
DSG too had their share of chances, but a disallowed goal with six minutes to play would be DSG’s last significant opportunity and the game ended 0-0 and went to penalties. Zaza Swift in goal for DSG then proved the difference between the two sides as she kept out all three of Woodridge’s chances, while Erin Preston converted for DSG, and they won the match 1-0 after the shoot-out.
High drama to end a great weekend of hockey in Cape Town made all the more special with the two Eastern Cape teams coming out on top.