Two goals in the fourth quarter by Litha Kraai and Stephen Meyer secured a hard-fought 3-0 victory for SACS against noisy neighbors, Bishops Diocesan College, at the Woodlands hockey astroturf on Friday night.
Despite going into the game as favorites, SACS was weary of their opposition, who hadn’t played in two weeks while they returned from a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat against Paul Roos in the final of the Hibbert Shield Hockey Festival.
The match started with a high tempo, as the visitor asked questions of the Bishops’ defense in the early exchanges. As early as the seventh minute, Zac Heyns, the Bishops goalkeeper, had to make a stunning save to stop a shot from Josh Opperman.
The visitors remained resolute in attack, however, and with the first quarter running out, they finally opened the scoring through Opperman, who received the ball from Kraai and pounced to give his side a 1-0 lead at the break.
The second and third chukkers failed to live up to expectations, as both sides couldn’t breach their respective defences despite Heyns making more saves to keep his side in the game.
Heyns’ fortunes would, unfortunately, run out in the fourth chukker as Bishops came in looking more fatigued.
SACS’s “highball pace” game plan started to pay off as the home side started making sloppy mistakes and giving away possession along with unnecessary penalty corners.
That allowed 16-year-old Kraai to capitalize, scoring a thunderbolt from a penalty corner with eight minutes remaining in the match. Meyer soon added to SAC’s tally when the side traveled the length of the pitch to tap in his side’s third, adding no doubt and taking the game away from the hosts.
Reflecting on the match, SACS head coach Pierre Le Roux expressed how impressed he was with his side’s ability to keep possession throughout the game, despite an impressive defensive showing by the hosts.
“We had most of the possession and most of the territory, but they defended well,” Le Roux told Super Sport Schools after the match.
“They blocked us on all our channels and made it hard for us to go on the counterattack.”
“They’ve got some great players; James Greeves caught us a couple of times, but I think the main thing was that we just kept pushing the ball forward and creating chances.”
Known for scoring goals galore, SACS only managed one goal in the first quarter, scoring the last two in the final stages of the match. Le Roux admitted, however, that he wasn’t too worried about conceding but rather wanted his team to counter Bishops and add to their tally.
“We spent a lot of time in their half, so whenever they got the ball, it would take them a long time to get to our circle.”
“As a coach, you’re always nervous that they’ll get there, but we were more concerned about how we were trying to get a goal.”
“The first goal was like a manufactured goal; we just worked it out, but our drag flicker (Kraai) scored an unbelievable goal, and the last goal we had Steph Meyer run in; he’s an in-door player, and he just flicked it in—those are the kind of goals you need when players can make a difference when you need them,” concluded Le Roux.
In other matches featuring Western Cape teams, Paul Roos continued their impressive form by defeating Paarl Gimnasium (2-0), whereas Paarl Boys High went down (2-1) against Parel Vallei.
Hoerskool Durbanville was also among the big winners, thumping HTS Drostyd (6-1), while Wynberg Boys High succumbed to a 5-1 humdinger against Gqeberha’s Grey High, and Rondebosch beat DF Malan (score), while Curro Durbanville edged out Stellenberg (3-0).
SACS 3 (Josh Opperman, Litha Kraai, Stephen Meyer). Bishops 0
Durbanville 6, HTS Drostdy 1; Paul Roos 2, Paarl Gimnasium 0; DF Malan 2, Rondebosch Boys’ High 0; Parel Vallei 2, Paarl Boys’ High 1; Curro Durbanville 3, Stellenberg 0.