York reclaimed their crown in the Southern Cape leg of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge after sweeping arch-rivals Outeniqua aside at Oakhill in Knysna on Saturday.
While these two schools have often had tightly contested matches in this competition, York took control from the start this time.
After scoring in the first minute of the final, York had an iron grip on the game that they never relinquished as they went on a scoring spree to win 4-0.
York set the tone for what was to come later in the day by also seeing off Outeniqua in their round-robin match.
In a tournament where the pressure never diminishes, York coach MJ Meyer said their modus operandi had been to manage their players during the round-robin fixtures.
“With the matches limited to 25 minutes the goal was to rotate the team regularly. Player management is key in the early part of the day, always keeping in mind that there is a chance of contesting the final.”
York’s strategy was to play “simple” hockey and to keep the ball moving.
“This was our aim throughout and it helped us to build momentum in the round-robin phase where we took four wins from four matches to secure our spot in the final.”
York, aka The Blocks, lost out in a penalty shootout to Outeniqua in the 2022 final and they were determined to right the wrongs of that day.
York clearly had the momentum during the final.
“We continued to move the ball well and were able to use our chances inside the circle,” said a happy Meyer.
By all accounts, the players loved the opportunity to compete in the SPAR Hockey Challenge.
“This annual challenge is a pleasure to play in and always delivers competitive hockey. This year was no different – it was another great day of hockey and we are extremely proud of our first-team girls,” said the coach.
He thanked Oakhill for hosting the tournament and the sponsors for a “wonderful day”.
The finalists have dominated the Southern Cape regional leg since the inaugural event in 2016. In that first final, York beat Oakhill before going on to defeat Outeniqua in three consecutive finals from 2017 to 2019.
After two years in the doldrums due to Covid, Outeniqua pulled one back last year by defeating York 3-2 in a penalty shootout after the two sides were level at 1-1 at the end of regulation time.