Maties beat Pukke 3-2 on penalties in a nail-biting final game of the first leg of Varsity Hockey held at the Maties Astro on Monday night.
After UP-Tuks smashed NMMU-Madibaz 14-0, the game took on special importance as whoever won would top the table and host the final of the two-leg Varsity Hockey season.
Maties started the game strongly, with continuous pressure, especially from Georgia Grobler and Sandiswe Tabata leading Maties to winning three penalty corners. Some strong defence from Pukke ensured that Maties could not take advantage as the first half ended 0-0.
In the second half Pukke came out firing and continuously forced Maties onto the back foot. In the final quarter of the game it became clear why both sides were first and second on the table as the game became stretched leading to end-to-end penalty corners.
Some last-ditch defending from both sides ensured that there was no breakthrough with the match ending 0-0. New laws meant that a penalty shootout had to take place in order to determine a winner. Maties won the toss and decided to go first at the shootout.
Taryn Glasby scored her penalty to get Maties off to a good start, before Maties goalkeeper Nicole Le Fleur swiped the ball from Pukke’s Miecke Fleming to put the hosts 1-0 ahead.
Pukke were then under pressure as Maties captain Heather McEwan scored her penalty and Pukke’s Dunelle van Taak missed her penalty to put Maties 2-0 up.
However, the shootout shifted as firstly the TMO adjudged that Maties’ Stephanie Botha had scored after the allotted time for a penalty, then Paige Phillips missed her penalty to give Pukke a chance of equalising. Charne Maddocks and Anneke Beukman scored for Pukke to level matters at 2-2.
Grobler showed her class by calmly sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and slotting her penalty leaving Pukke vice-captain Jocelle Davids needing to equalise. However, Le Fleur produced another wonderful save to give Maties a 3-2 win.
The result meant that Maties went through the weekend unbeaten and will host the final of the Varsity Hockey season.
The second leg of the competition will be played between 12-15 May at the NWU-Puk Astro in Potchefstroom with the final scheduled to take place on 22 May.-Dylan Jack