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Player profile: Elizabeth Anderson (St Mary’s DSG – Kloof)

By CS Chiwanza , in Hockey | Featured , at 2024-06-01 Tags: ,

St Mary's DSG's prolific striker, Elizabeth Anderson.
St Mary’s DSG’s prolific striker, Elizabeth Anderson.

Elizabeth Anderson has a love for Robotics and Science and hopes to use the gift of education to one day better the world through these fields. However, there is nothing robotic about her creative use of the hockey stick, though there is scientific precision in her finishing.

No one expected the goal. Not the Namibia Hawks nor the Durban PSi team. Neither did the fans on either side. The Hawks were not just the favourites to win the match; they were expected to dominate the tournament. Most importantly, no one expected the 14-year-old girl on the baseline to squeeze the ball past the defenders and goalkeeper from that angle.

However, that is what Elizabeth Anderson did, with a reverse stick flick that snuck in the inside post into the top corner, just five minutes into the contest. Anderson’s goal sent the Hawks in all directions. Durban PSi took full advantage of their opponent’s discombobulation and raced into a 4-0 lead with barely 20 minutes on the clock. The match finished 5-0. Anderson had four goals to her name, two from penalty corner conversions and one from a penalty stroke.

“I will always remember and cherish that match. It showed me the importance of the mental side in hockey; that if you set aside fear and just believe that you and your team can, you will win games,” Anderson shared.

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Anderson was barely out of her nappies when she latched on to the sport. She had the right genes. Her maternal grandmother represented Ireland, while her mother turned out for Zimbabwe in her youth. On her father’s side, her uncle Murray Anderson was part of the South African men’s side at the 1996 Olympics.

“My earliest memories of hockey are my mom teaching me how to hit a hockey ball – one of my biggest strengths now as a player – on the golf course of our golf estate when I was very young,” she recalled.

In a seamless transfer from one coach to the other, Anderson landed at Umhlanga College where she fell into Alan Paton’s capable hands. The renowned coach made hockey come to life for her, Anderson said, and helped her discover a deep passion for the sport.

Elizabeth Anderson, representing KZN Coastal for the first time, at the u13 IPT.
Elizabeth Anderson, representing KZN Coastal for the first time, at the u13 IPT.

Hockey was not the only sport to be found on the Anderson family tree. Her grandfather represented South Africa in golf, and she has several aunts and uncles who have represented Great Britain in sports ranging from rugby to equestrian. A number are weekend warriors in water polo and tennis.

In true Anderson form, she participated in whatever sport was on offer and performed quite well in tennis, netball, and equestrian. However, her pink Grays stick was never far from her reach. “Hockey just seemed to always be the one sport I would pick above everything else,” she explained.

With her pink Grays, Anderson re-enacted the moves she watched Alex Danson execute. Watching the England and Great Britain forward perform at the highest level, scoring goals at the Olympics, was fuel for the youngster. As she grew older, she discovered María Granatto’s creative approach to the game and was enamoured. “I love watching videos of her playing as she often experiments and does goal scoring in unique ways that I love to try and implement,” she said.

Her mother sits on top of that pile of inspirational beings in her life. “She has taught me so much in terms of balance and general ethics. I really aspire to be as strong-willed and selfless as she is one day,” Anderson said.

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“She can score goals that’s for sure, but what I love about Elizabeth as a player is she is just pure grit and power. She really just is a formidable presence in the circle,” reckoned Carla Ann Mackay, Anderson’s coach at St Mary’s DSG (Kloof).

Mackay, who has watched the 17-year-old blossom into one of the best forwards in schoolgirl hockey, refuses to take credit for her young charge’s abilities or incredible 2024 season. She insists that when she took over from Kelly Reed in 2023, Anderson was already a well-rounded player. Anderson already had a natural ability to score goals and her individual skill was already pretty well-defined, when she came into the picture, Mackay said.

Mackay and Anderson’s player-coach relationship was helped by the pair’s enjoyment of witty remarks and banter. “I resonate with her witty and sometimes dry sense of humour. It always gets a laugh out of me because it’s very similar to my sense of humour,” Mackay reflected.

St Mary's DSG won the 2024 St Anne's Cup with a clean record, which included a win over Eunice in which Elizabeth Anderson scored from this shot.
St Mary’s DSG won the 2024 St Anne’s Cup with a clean record, which included a win over Eunice in which Elizabeth Anderson scored from this shot.

The coach has watched Anderson not only beat defences and goalkeepers often, but she has also repeatedly watched the teenager do it in style.

“She has scored some amazing goals, set up some amazing attacks and defended like a Trojan at times. But the standout moment for me is the one-time reverse shot goal she scored against DGC this year in our league fixture. The awareness of space around her and timing, everything was perfect,” Mackay shared.

For her part, Anderson’s favourite goal under Mackay came from a penalty stroke. St Mary’s and Menlopark were tied on 0-0 with six minutes left in the game. “Being able to have the entire team trust and back me to take this important stroke just made it so much more memorable when I could deliver and help the team do well,” Anderson explained.

It speaks volumes that the teenager did not pick a goal where she exhibited individual brilliance. It is a testament to her qualities as a team player. Anderson might have been a near-finished article when Mackay arrived, but this was one of the areas that the teenager has improved in during her tenure, Mackay noted.

Elizabeth Anderson taking the game to the opposition, as always challenging the defenders.
Elizabeth Anderson taking the game to the opposition, as always challenging the defenders.

“Elizabeth has grown mostly in maturity and discipline in the time I have been coaching her. Her decision-making inside the circle has become more clinical. I have seen her grow in defensive discipline as well. She works harder in defence than most attackers and it’s just added to her strengths as an all-round hockey player,” she explained.

The 17-year-old, who loves the inside pull, and her coach have added silverware to the St Mary’s cabinet after lifting the St Anne’s Cup in May, and they have still more memories to create together. In addition to those, Anderson hopes to create more timeless moments at the 2024 SASHOC National Week.

“I just want to enjoy my last schools’ hockey IPT and really make the most of my last year of schoolgirls hockey,” she said.

CS Chiwanza