York High won their third title in a row when they defeated close rivals Outeniqua High in the South Western Districts final of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge in George on Saturday.
The defending champions won 2-0 in a repeat of last year’s title decider, again earning the right to represent the region in the provincial finals on 11 August. This will take place at Woodridge, just outside Port Elizabeth, and will see the five regional winners playing off to decide the year’s overall winners. The other qualifiers are Kingswood (PE Inland), Alexander Road (PE Coastal), Hudson Park (East London Coastal) and Kingsridge (East London Inland).
Despite winning the title the previous two years, York coach Erica Combrink said before the tournament they knew there would be plenty of pressure on them. With the games in this competition being played on a shortened format over 20 minutes, matches are contested intensely. Combrink said their strategy would be to try to score goals early in the match to transfer the pressure to their opponents.
Event organiser, Peter Wilson, said it had been another thrilling day of schoolgirls hockey, with as much excitement off the field as on it. “The vibe at York High was outstanding, even from 07:30 in the morning,” he said. “These schools really embrace this competition with everything they have and that’s really good to see.” He added that the hockey was of a high standard, with plenty of competition throughout the day. “With the shortened format of 20 minutes a match, the whole competition is unpredictable because anyone can win. “It’s a bit like sevens rugby and if you can score a goal early on, then you are in the driving seat.”