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Eastern Province wins first SASHOC Week title since 2017

By CS Chiwanza , in Hockey | Featured Hockey | News , at 2024-07-04 Tags: ,

Eastern Province U16A girls' title-winning side. Credit: TeamPhotoSAEastern Province A was exceptional, winning seven out of seven games, on their way to their first SASHOC National Week u16 girls’ title since 2017 with a 1 – 0 triumph over Boland A in the final. The tournament ran from 28 June to 3 July in Bloemfontein.

“We worked so hard to achieve this,” an elated Hanna Potgieter, the Eastern Province A captain, shared after the victory.

⁠”My message to them at the start of the week was to enjoy the hunt and that message remained the same – ‘enjoy the hunt and opportunity to play. Go out and express yourself,'” Andrew Beynon, the Eastern Province A coach, explained.

Eastern Province A had an outstanding unbeaten campaign. They scored 21 goals, 16 of which came in the group stages where they won four and drew one match on their way to the top of Pool B. In the semifinals, they overcame Western Province A 4 – 1. And then beat Boland A 1 – 0 in the final. The two sides played out a 1 – 1 draw in the last match of the pool stages

Despite the team being the youngest outfit at this year’s IPTs, Beynon’s team showed a lot of growth. In 2023, they scored the ninth most goals in the tournament.

⁠”It is a young side but well-balanced, and their commitment has been exceptional. They were focused from when we assembled as a group and they continued to grow as a group throughout the week,” Beynon said.

This year, they finished with the joint-most goals by a side at the tournament. Southern Free State A is the other team with as many goals. However, Unlike Southern Free State A who have one outstanding goal-scorer, Chanette van Vuuren Jansen who has 10 goals to her name, Eastern Province A has three players in the top five scorers list. Jana Prinsloo and Lucy Holderness are in second place with six goals each and Kerrin Gillies is in joint fourth with five goals.

“It was definitely a collective effort. Different players were able to express themselves at certain times because of the hard work of the team,” Beynon explained his team’s approach.

The trio of Prinsloo, Holderness, and Gillies has been outstanding in the D and was a constant threat to Boland A’s defence throughout their contest in the final. They made several circle entries thanks to Eastern Province A’s dominating possession in the first two chukkas.

Boland A scored the third most goals but has been the best defensive team in the tournament. They conceded only two goals in their campaign, both to Eastern Province A. Staying true to form, Chris Gerber‘s charges repelled all the attacks launched towards their goal.

However, Boland A did more than just defend. They relied on the counter for most of the contest but wrestled control and were more energetic and attacking in the last five minutes of the third chukka and into the final quarter. The newfound verve turned the match from a one-sided affair to a hotly contested one that saw action swing from end to end, attacks and counter-attacks.

Alecia Louw broke the deadlock with five minutes remaining in the contest. It was not a glorious goal, but her third goal of the tournament turned out to be her most important goal of the tournament. After a period of trading volleys, Eastern Province A enjoyed a good phase of play, where an attack resulted in a penalty corner. Prinsloo teed up a shot which Louw deflected past the defenders and goalkeeper to take the lead.

The only concern for Beynon would be around his charges’ penalty corner conversion rate. They won nine short corners and only converted one. In the end, that was the only conversion that mattered.

Three members of the title-winning 2024 Eastern Province A team, Prinsloo, Louw, and Linathi Goniwe, were selected for the SA Schools u16.

CS Chiwanza