A Good, Solid Debut Performance for St John’s DSG.

St John’s DSG
Newcomers to the tournament, St John’s DSG had a phenomenal debut at the seventh SPAR KZN School Girls’ Hockey Challenge finishing off their first appearance with a fourth place.
Having knocked out Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School, the only team to represent the Pietermaritzburg Central Region, the debutants had big shoes to fill, and fill them they did!
In their first game at the Grand Finals, they took on travelling team, Grantleigh from Richards Bay and notched up their first win putting 3 in the back of the net and not conceding any. Their second game had them up against Amanzimtoti High School, with St John’s continuing their good form taking the game 5 nil. Their third game saw them play the only team to have a 100% appearance at the Grand Finals, with a record of three golds, two silvers and a fourth, St John’s faced Durban Girls’ College and managed to hold their ground with the final whistle blowing and the scoreboard untouched at nil nil. Their final pool game, they met for the first time ever, the ‘giant slayers’ King Edward, Durban Girls’ College’s nemesis. After KEHS managed to hold College to a nil all draw, they were in good form, but in the final game of the day St John’s put their head down, worked hard and knocked in two decisive goals against the Matatiele team.
In the final classification round, St John’s took on defending champions St Mary’s in the first semi-final. With the score leading up to half time at 1 all, the newcomers were boldly holding their ground. Nearing the changeover, St Mary’s slipped their second goal in, giving them the edge. Midway through the second half St John’s found the back of the net after a well-constructed run down their left hand side. Disaster struck when St Mary’s challenged the call, claiming a foot obstruction earlier on in the movement, their challenge was successful and the goal was unfortunately disallowed. With the slight psychological advantage, St Mary’s pushed hard and earned their 3 goal, and a place in the gold silver game, while St John’s would take on St Anne’s for the bronze medal game.
In an 033 derby, St Anne’s dominated the hotly contested bronze medal game. St Anne’s peppered the sturdy defence of Amanda Khumalo who valiantly stayed on her toes and didn’t let any balls past her. In the final few minutes of the game, St John’s striker Eden Visser picked up a pass in the circle and had a one-on-one with St Anne’s keeper, Megan Rebstein-Dovey. Visser took the shot, with the hard working Rebstein-Dovey saving. In a silent stadium, Visser picked up the rebound ball, pulled right of the keeper and pushed the ball which edged past the outside post.
With a goalless draw, the game progressed to the nerve wracking penalty shootout. Three players from each team stepped up to take the shot in the 8 second rolling penalties.
In the first round, St Anne’s went first with Grace Kitshoff dashing in and fading to the right of the goals and easily getting her push past Khumalo to take the lead. Kelly Pearson stepped up next for St John’s and was blocked by Megan Rebstein-Dovey, as the Saints keeper tracked Pearson as she weaved right and then left, Rebstein-Dovey dived right knocking the ball away from Pearson. Both players then charged to the edge of the D, with Rebstein-Dovey committing herself to a forward dive nudging the ball out of the D, thwarting St John’s first attempt.
In an almost identical fashion, Jessica Redfern followed Kitshoff’s efforts almost to the letter, scoring St Anne’s second goal, the score now looking good on 2-0, half way through the second round. Next up for St John’s was Kelly-Ann Fjellvik who skilfully took the ball down the centre, moved slightly to her right and slotted the ball under a falling Rebstein-Dovey, taking the score to 2-1.
In the third and final round, captain for St Anne’s Brady Wiseman worked the ball in, passing Khumalo and then chasing down her ball that agonisingly scraped past the upright, putting all the pressure on St John’s to try and level the game to take it to sudden death. Captain for St John’s Amy Karlsen stepped up and did superbly well to get away from an encroaching Rebstein-Dovey, magically knocking in her shot only to watch it shave the right hand post, sadly missing.
St Anne’s took the win from St John’s who were in their first ever Grand Finals, with the score of 2-1.
A beamingly delighted coach for St John’s DSG, Lyndal ‘Binks’ Robertson enthused, “I have two words that sum up our performance, ‘proud’ and ‘consistent’!”
“We are extremely proud of our Yellow Sticks and the consistent performance this weekend. This tournament has given us an opportunity to play different opposition from around the province and has exposed our players to another level of school based hockey. Amy Karlsen, captain of the Yellow Sticks, a true warrior on the field, has led her team well this year and has helped inspire the team to play accordingly to our team motto, ‘Love What You Do!’. This has certainly reflected in the SJS positive attacking game play as they continued to ‘ruffle the feathers’ of the top teams this weekend. A good solid performance by the newcomers to the tournament!”

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