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DGC and Eunice braced for new challenges

By CS Chiwanza , in Hockey | Featured Hockey | News , at 2024-04-12 Tags: , , , ,

Durban Girls' College coach Chardinay Penniston and captain Emily Macquet hold aloft the St Mary's Hockey Festival winners' trophy.
Durban Girls’ College coach Chardinay Penniston and captain Emily Macquet show off the St Mary’s Hockey Festival winners’ trophy.

Newly crowned St Mary’s Hockey Festival champions, Durban Girls’ College (DGC), return to action this weekend with a short trip to Danville Park Girls’ High, while the runners-up at last week’s festival, Eunice, take on Garsfontein.

It has taken a while for DGC to let it sink in that they lifted the St Mary’s Festival trophy. It felt like a dream at first. Last year, they played their hearts out, only to finish seventh. This year, they had a relatively young team that stood toe-to-toe with the best.

On the eve of the final, they convincingly handed the 2023 champions, Eunice, their first defeat of the event. They met the red-hot Free State team again in the final and proved that their win from the previous day had not been a fluke, with a thrilling 3-2 victory securing them the title of 2024 champions.

After a week of basking in the glory of their accomplishment, coach Chardinay Penniston’s charges now must turn their focus towards the challenge that lies in front of them, Danville. While there might be daylight between Eunice and Danville’s rankings, DGC is not paying attention to the difference. “We have the same mindset we had at St Mary’s. We take things a game at a time and will play our best against each team,” Penniston said.

Rather than put their triumphant campaign behind them, DGC will use the memories of their St Mary’s run as fuel to help them scale new mountains. One of those mountains is their school league. Their goal is to win the title. The girls understand the task won’t be an easy one and are putting in more hours and effort at training.

“We are very motivated because there are three more major goals that we are hoping to succeed in: St Anne’s, the KZN Spar finals, and qualifying for the Top 12 Tournament. We are going to continue to work hard and prepare ourselves for the rest of the year,” explained Penniston.

St Mary’s Festival runners-up, Eunice, take on Garsfontein on Friday. Coach Nika Coertzen’s charges will not let the loss to DGC in the final define them as a unit. Inexperienced and young compared to last season’s 1st XI, they played excellent hockey throughout the festival and will continue their path of growth as Coertzen nurtures the class of 2024 into a force.

Eunice has an ambitious young side and they’re keen to emulate the outstanding 2023 team, which finished the year as the top-ranked school in the country.

After their meeting with Eunice, Garsfontein, dauntingly, heads straight into a contest with Oranje, for so long the pacesetters in South African schoolgirls’ hockey, and the form team heading into the St Mary’s Festival.

Garsfontein is in for a tough test. Gyster van Schalkwyk’s outfit, which finished fifth at St Mary’s, has been strong so far this year and has scored goals in bucketloads. Captained by Anriette Otto, Oranje is one of the best-structured teams to be found anywhere and, as always, they’re gunning for top honours this season.

“I do believe and can say with confidence that we’ve prepared well but preparation never stops as we are always seeking to improve and better ourselves in the game we love so dearly,” said Van Schalkwyk.

In the WesGrow league, Kirsten Beneke‘s charges, Voortrekker (Bethlehem), spring into action with a contest against Hoërskool Fichardtpark. Voortrekker started the year with a successful Balling Festival and followed that up with a collection of good results at the Greg Beling Festival, in East London, and the St Stithians Festival, in Johannesburg.

Beneke’s team shares a common goal with DGC. “This year’s results, thus far, have been exceptional. Our main goal for this year is to attend the Top 12 Tournament,” she said. “The table has been changing rapidly every week, and we hope to keep improving and make the cut.”

With top 12 places a motivating factor, and teams making their intentions to be part of the event clear, this week promises more blockbuster hockey action.

Fixtures

Friday: 18:45 – Eunice vs Garsfontein

Saturday: 10:00 – Fichardtpark vs Voortrekker, 11:00 – Danville vs DGC, 12:00 – Oranje vs Garsfontein.

error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.