Woodridge College caused an upset when they claimed the final spot in the provincial finals of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge after winning the Port Elizabeth Central tournament on Sunday.
The champions had the edge possession and territorial wise against Alexander Road High, but, after failing to convert their short corners, they had to wait until the penalty shootout to seal the deal 2-0.
The shootout saw Woodridge’s first attempt blocked, but the ball was recovered on the rebound and hammered home. The second point followed after Woodridge’s player was taken out by the goalkeeper, resulting in a free stroke.
Woodridge join Kingsridge High School (East London Inland), Clarendon High School for Girls (East London Coastal), York High School (South Western Districts) and Kingswood College (PE North) in the grand finale in August.
Union High School initially qualified for the finals in the PE North tournament, but will be replaced by runners-up Kingswood due to a clash in dates with the school’s derby day.
Tournament coordinator Peter Wilson said Woodridge advanced to the final after putting in a stunning performance in the playoffs against last year’s provincial champions Collegiate.
After finishing in a goalless draw, the 20-minute match went into the eight-second penalty shootout where Woodridge secured the win 3-2.
The second playoff saw another pre-tournament favourite, hosts Pearson, fall 1-0 in penalty shootouts to Alexander Road after both sides failed to score during the match proper.
In the playoff for third, Collegiate and Pearson drew 1-1 to share the spoils.
Hockey Challenge national director Les Galloway said the tournament provided an opportunity for individual players to catch the eye.
“It was an excellent event, with strong, competitive hockey on display. This is their chance to make an impression on the selectors as they aim for higher honours.
“It also gives players the opportunity to measure themselves against what is out there and become better,” said Galloway, who initiated the concept in KwaZulu-Natal seven years ago.
SPAR Eastern Cape promotions and advertising manager Alan Stapleton said the tournament had been a great display of hockey and of the camaraderie between players.
Brendon Winship, who umpired the final, was selected as the most promising umpire of the day.
Final PE Central standings: 1 Woodridge, 2 Alexander Road, 3 Collegiate and Pearson, 5 Framesby, 6 Victoria Park, 7 Westering, 8 Nico Malan and 9 Linkside.