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The Wits men’s win an important game to give them a chance at winning the league.
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The Wits first team women’s side faced an unfortunate 6-1 defeat to University of Johannesburg (UJ) on Saturday in the UJ vs Wits Hockey Derby at UJ Hockey Astro.
The friendly match was aimed at assessing the team’s pre-season performance ahead of the much anticipated Varsity Sport Hockey tournament and Southern Gauteng Hockey premier league.
Commenting on the team’s performance, Wits coach Pietie Coetzee agreed that she was “expecting a really tough game” but didn’t expect the game to be that one sided.
“I don’t think that the scoreline was really necessary, I think we can be much better than that so that’s something we should control better.”
“The match I think went really well for us in the first half because we managed to achieve a few of our objects that we set out. To control certain phases of the game which we did very well. After the the first half we basically took our foot off the pedal a bit and they came hard at us and scored all 5 of their goals in the second half.” said Coetzee.
Tough game for Wits
It was hard-fought from the outset, with an even battle in the first half meaning that scoring opportunities were few and far between.
The home side came out guns blazing in the first quarter with clean short quick passes which were a bit of a challenge for Wits who focused on long passes.
Wits created a few early chances, but UJ scrambled well on defence and as a result made a few counter-attacking runs.
UJ opened the scoring against Wits 9 minutes into the game, leaving Wits falling behind with a 1-0 scoreline.
UJ threatened to score two more goals after wining short corners but UJ’s Taren Malleit slammed the ball straight to Wits’ goalkeeper’s feet.
UJ extended their lead to 2-0 when Marizen Marais scored in the last 4 minutes of the 3rd quarter.
Just when Wits was still dealing with the previous blow, UJ came back again with Claire Frey receiving a square pass from Nika Nel,slamming a 3-0 lead.
The Wits side could not take advantage of a short corner in the 4th quarter resulting in a goalless attempt that was quickly deflected by UJ’s goalkeeper Robyn Ormond.
The home side continued to dominate the last quarter when two goals left the score at 5-0 to UJ.
Wits finally responded with just 5 minutes left. A perfect shot from Toni Marks assisted by Londeka Dlamini and Nicole Fyrie, leaving the score at 5-1.
While Wits was still celebrating a goal, UJ ended the fight with a 6-1 scoreline.
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) 1st team men came up top in the UJ vs Wits Hockey Derby friendly tournament with a clinical 5-2 victory over Wits on Saturday at UJ Hockey Astro.
UJ wasted no time when the first half began as they showed Wits why they clinched the 2014 Varsity Hockey title.
UJ’s midfield ace Taylor Dart threatened to take UJ into the lead just 2 minutes into the game when his square cross from Brandon Panther was deflected by Wits’ goalkeeper Xander van Biljoen.
Another chance came from UJ’s Gareth Heyns who smacked a hopeful shot from the quarter line, but van Biljoen was too quick for his confident attempt.
With UJ dominating the first half with ball possession, Wits finally applied pressure in the back and moved the ball up past the center line and inside UJ’s D. However after much fight Wits’ Jon Haughton lost what could have been a lead goal for Wits when his advance was quickly stolen from him.
Panther quickly raced down and smacked the ball inside the top corner to send the home crowd into wild celebrations with a 1-0 lead to UJ 5 minutes into the game.
A wasted corner by UJ could have sent the fast paced men into a 2-0 lead, however Nic Rowe failed to stop the ball outside the top D.
After two more wasted chances, UJ’s Gerald Mpopo calmly pushed the ball between van Biljoen’s legs to send the hosts into a 2-0 lead.
Wits tried to redeem themselves in the last 6 minutes of the first half when upon winning a short corner, Jordi Sanders’ attempt was deflected by UJ’s goalkeeper Mattew Martins. A second chance for Wits came from Dylan Murray as he smacked a powerful shot that went wide of the post.
It was only in the last dying minutes that Wits started applying more pressure and equalized ball possession, but UJ held out well and took their two-goal lead into halftime.
Wits coming back strong in the second half
UJ had more powerplay at the start of the 2nd half as they attacked Wits in an attempt to take the game way beyond their traditional foe. Heyns slammed a goal, taking the hosts to a 3-0 lead after UJ won their second short corner.
Wits finally pulled back one showing plenty of fighting spirit when Haughton scored a goal, leaving the score at 3-1 to UJ.
After a failed attempt from a third short corner, Bryon Cleak responded with a 4-1 goal by pushing up-field and taking the ball into the Wits D and flicking it inside the right corner of the post.
It didn’t take long for Wits to respond when a hopeful short corner taken by Sean Donaldson went straight to Sanders who sent one in, leaving the score at 4-2 to UJ.
The Varsity Hockey champs extended their lead with just 1 minute left when a goal was scored before the game ended. Although Wits were able to pull 2 back, it was not enough to avoid defeat as the game finished 5-2 to UJ.
The Wits hockey second team plans to win this year’s varsity league.
Wits Hockey Club chair, Jessica Picas, told Wits Vuvuzela this week that they want to win so they can move up to the reserve league which falls just below the premier league.
“Last year we came fourth in the league and this year we are aiming to change this,” she said.
According to Picas, Wits’ biggest opponent is the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and it’s not because they are tough to beat.
Picas said there has always been rivalry between the two teams because they are the only official universities in the league.
“Ever since I’ve been playing and even when my sister was playing over five years ago, there was major rivalry between the two teams. It’s inherent. As Witsies, we just want to beat UJ.”
Picas said the team’s goal for this year is also to create an “off the field vibe” between team members.
“The girls’ team gets on really well with each other but with new faces on the team we want to cement the relationships we create so we play well as a team.”
To stay relaxed the team enjoy having a “good time” together. Recently they spent time speed dating, watching hockey games together and having “fines meetings” as a way to bond between matches and practices.
The team are inspired to play hard by their coach, John, who is very good at “getting the girls pumped”.
“Hockey at Wits is the perfect balance between seriousness and playfulness,” Picas said. “We push each other but we’re able to have fun at the same time.”
For Witsies who don’t want to play competitively, the Wits hockey club is planning to start a social league which will be happening every Friday.
To officially kick off this year’s season, Wits will be playing UJ at the annual derby day taking place next weekend on the UJ campus.
Anyone who is interested in getting involved with the social hockey league can email the club on firstname.lastname@example.org
by Barry Morisse
AS A Wits student-sportsman myself, the constant battle that goes on in my mind and those of my teammates is to ask what is the strength of Wits Sport relative to the other universities around the country? The question we all end up asking ourselves is this:
Can the university wear two hats – both as an internationally recognised academic institution and a sporting powerhouse? Popular opinion says no. But I believe it can.
When I arrived in 2011 and joined the Wits Hockey Club, I was well aware of the entrenched philosophy that would govern the relationship between my academics and my sport. I was coming to Wits to get a world-class degree, while playing hockey on the side to keep myself fit, enjoy the team atmosphere and to improve myself as a serious hockey player. I didn’t get the impression that Wits was competing with the best – but rather represented a pleasant break from lectures.
I worked on the Hockey committee for two years, before chairing it in 2013. What I saw was a dogged determination from everyone involved to build the sport section into a semi-professional, competitive, self-sustaining enterprise with the view of taking our performances to the highest level.
Traditionally, it is no wonder that Wits struggles to compete with the other top universities, simply because the financial and authoritative support allocated to Wits Sport is minimal compared to our rivals.However simply by throwing more money into sport won’t automatically turn us into a sporting powerhouse, it needs something more than that.
Instead we need to focus our attention and energies into crafting world-class facilities and a professional support structure to attract top athletes and allow them to reach the highest levels in their code while still maintaining the quality of their studies. That’s the unique proposition that would make Wits a viable option for the top young sportsmen and women of our country.
We are not there yet, by any stretch of the imagination, but we are making large strides towards it. If Wits can continue to offer the unrivalled academics it does while accommodating the needs of top sportsmen and women – that is an offer that cannot be matched across the country.
Once the sporting support structures are at the required level, the academics will draw in top young talent, thus catalysing the transition towards a truly holistic academic and sporting powerhouse.
Wits, wearing two hats.