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Ken Borland


Picture looks rosy for Northerns women’s hockey

Posted on May 04, 2016 by Ken

 

The picture looks rosy for Northerns women’s hockey as their young side triumphed in the Senior Interprovincial Nationals at the weekend, showing impressive self-belief as they beat a star-studded, more experienced Southern Gauteng team in a shootout at the Randburg Hockey Stadium.

“We were definitely underdogs if you looked at the names on paper, Southern Gauteng are a powerhouse who have won many IPTs. But we took each game as it comes and we played very good hockey to get through the semi-finals. To beat North-West 4-0 was a very good performance and I was a bit concerned that we wouldn’t be able to reach that peak again.

“We were very nervous in the first half of the final, we showed our inexperience, but I knew if we could just keep them out then we could claw our way back. The players began to believe in themselves and put more pressure on. It was actually a blessing that we went 1-0 down because I told them ‘now we have to chase the game’.

“You can’t do all that work to get to the final and then just not play, so we began to pass the ball, be positive, and it felt like we shifted the momentum. We were winning more 50/50s, winning those one-on-one battles and we had more shots at goal,” coach Lindsay Wright told The Citizen.

“It’s very exciting and I believe it was some of the best hockey Northerns have ever played, the girls really stood up, which was wonderful. Northerns have tended to not play good hockey in the right moments, they tended to not get through semi-finals, although they were always recognised for their doggedness, their never-say-die attitude.

“We’re basically a university-based team, 90% of our players come through Tuks, so they’re all inexperienced and youthful and we rely heavily on the more experienced players. Tuks will attract more players and we have good schools, but we need to produce more locally-based players and keep them in the province, and then we will potentially build a powerhouse team,” Wright added.

Northerns are likely to lose KZN product Jacinta Jubb, their leading goalscorer, but it is certainly not doom and gloom for them. Player of the Tournament Celia Evans, in particular, is a phenomenal talent.

“Celia is one of the best players in the country right now and she is a real all-rounder, not just in terms of her hockey talent but in terms of what she gives to the team and her fellow players. She’s like Nicolene Terblanche and Kim Hubach, who have been there and done that and who constantly give to those who have less experience, which is the true sign of a very talented player,” Wright said.

Any champion side learns from their mistakes and Wright admitted that their failure to defend their title last year, when Southern Gauteng won the IPT, had been taken on board and thoroughly analysed.

Northens hockey is on the rise and the traditional powerhouses have been warned.

“The girls never gave up and their energy was fantastic. We took the lessons from last year and changed things round,” Wright said.

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