The University of Johannesburg (UJ) were crowned Varsity Hockey champions on Monday night after beating UFS-Kovsies 3-0 in the City of Roses.
The Johannesburg students emulated the feats of their male counterparts – who claimed the men’s title in 2014 – after ending their campaign with a strong performance to hand Kovsies their first and only defeat of the competition.
It took until deep into the second half for UJ to break the deadlock, but once they found the back of the net once, they could not stop.
The match had gotten off to a frantic start with both teams struggling to hold possession. Kovsies managed to secure a short corner with their first decent attack in the sixth minute. Captain Line Malan stepped up and riffled a shot in, but found no glory as Nica Nel comfortably dealt with the attempt.
It was all the home side from that point as UJ were placed under all sorts of pressure, but the visitors held their own and denied Kovsies any further shots at goal as the match remained goalless at the end of the first quarter.
UJ withstood the pressure and managed to survive the early onslaught, and were awarded a short corner in the 23rd minute, but found no reward as Nicole Walraven managed to run down Lilian du Plessis’ shot at goal.
The visitors maintained their pressure on the home side for the remainder of the half and made their way into the Kovsies circle on numerous occasions, but could not find that final touch to guide the ball home, as the match remained deadlocked at the half-time interval.
UJ were awarded a short corner seconds after the resumption of play but were once again denied by Walraven, which allowed Kovsies to launch an immediate counterattack only for the UJ defence to stand their ground, and the attack came to nothing.
The tense mid-battle continued for much of the quarter, with both sides creating chances before UJ were awarded a short corner.
This time du Plessis was denied by a secular save by Kovsies’ goalkeeper, but UJ would penetrate the home side’s fortress a few seconds later when du Plessis set off on a run down the baseline and placed a pass across the face of goal which was tapped in, to hand the visitors the all-important lead after 40 minutes.
Kovsies’ task became harder with 10 minutes remaining in the match when du Plessis finally found the backboard after she slotted home a perfectly placed drag flick to leave the Kovsies keeper flat-footed. Kovsies threw everything they had at the visitors but the Johannesburg ladies were having none of it and denied the home side with every circle entry.
The result was put to bed three minutes from full-time when UJ captain Kaila-Ron Flemming smashed home a fantastic reverse stick shot from the top of the circle to leave Kovsies’ keeper with no chance.
Kovsies could not launch a comeback as UJ avenged their 1-5 defeat earlier in the competition and claim the title of 2015 Varsity Hockey champions.
Mugg & Bean Star Save of the Match: Chloe Keeping (UJ)
Jet Striker of the Match: Kaila-Ron Flemming (UJ)
FNB Player of the Match: Kaila-Ron Flemming (UJ)
Photo 1 caption: The University of Johannesburg lift the cup after winning the 2015 Varsity Hockey final, thumping Kovsies 3-0 to claim the season’s honours in the City of Roses on 18 May, 2015. Photo: Frikkie Kapp /SASPA
Photo 2 caption: Isabella da Rocha of UJ (front) tries to escape the attentions of KOVSIES’ Nicole Walraven, at UFS Astro in Bloemfontein. Photo: Frikkie Kapp /SASPA
(With editing by gsport)