Unbeaten EP crown U16 hockey week with SA champions title

We worked so hard to achieve this, elated captain says

The EP U16 girls's team won the Sashoc national tournament in Bloemfontein last week
ON TOP: The EP U16 girls's team won the Sashoc national tournament in Bloemfontein last week
Image: SUPPLIED

The Eastern Province U16 girls’ hockey team enjoyed an unbeaten run on the way to winning the Sashoc (SA Schools Hockey Association) national tournament in Bloemfontein last week.

EP were crowned champions after they defeated Boland 1-0 in the final and were delighted with their success.

“We worked so hard to achieve this,” elated EP captain Hannah Potgieter said after the final.

Coach Andrew Beynon said they had placed the emphasis on enjoying themselves going into the tournament.

“My message to them at the start of the week was to enjoy the hunt and opportunity to play,” he said.

“Go out and express yourselves.”

The EP team scored 21 goals during the week, 16 of them coming in the group stage when they won four matches and drew one to finish top of pool B.

In the semifinals they overcame Western Province A 4-1 and then defeated Boland 1-0 in the title decider.

Earlier they had played out a 1-1 draw with Boland in the final match of the pool stage.

Despite being the youngest team at this year’s IPT, the girls showed a lot of growth during the week.

“It’s a young but fairly well balanced side and their commitment was exceptional,” Beynon said.

“They were focused from when we assembled as a group and they continued to grow as a group throughout the week.”

After scoring the ninth most goals in the 2023 tournament, this year EP joined Southern Free State A in scoring the most goals at the week.

EP had three players in the top five scorers’ list. Jana Prinsloo and Lucy Holderness were in second place with six goals each and Kerryn Gillies was joint-fourth with five goals.

“It was definitely a collective effort,” Beynon said.

“Different players were able to express themselves at different times because of the hard work of the team.”

In the final, the trio of Prinsloo, Holderness and Gillies were a constant threat to Boland’s defence. They made several circle entries, thanks to EP dominating possession in the first two chukkas.

Boland A scored the third most goals at the week and were also the best defensive team, conceding only two goals at the tournament, both to EP A.

However, Boland did more than just defend. They were prepared to counter-attack for most of the match, but wrestled control and were more energetic in the last five minutes of the third chukka and into the fourth.

Eventually, however, Alecia Louw broke the deadlock with five minutes remaining, for her third goal, and arguably the most important, of the tournament.

EP enjoyed a good phase of player which ended in a penalty corner and Prinsloo teed up a shot which Louw deflected past the defenders for the winning goal.

At the conclusion of the tournament, EP players Prinsloo, Louw and Linathi Goniwe were selected for the SA Schools U16 squad. — SuperSportschools.com

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