A matter of inches sends NWU out of Varsity Hockey against Maties

The NWU Men’s Varsity Hockey team can feel hard done by after they lost their semi-final 2-0 on penalties against Maties after the match ended 2-2 during regulation time.

The NWU  supporters may even argue that the their side should have won the match earlier after Gertjie Lamprecht’s strike on the edge of the circle was ruled  out after a television referral. The umpire, Sean Rapaport, overruled the goal claiming that the ball had not entered the circle. This 50/50 decision as well as Maties keeper, Rob McKinley’s heroics in the penalty shootout ultimately stopped NWU in their tracks.

The NWU though started as brightly as the sun that shined on the Tuks Astro as Killian Ludick scored the opener in the first 5 minutes. A beautiful long pass from Lamprecht found captain, Sinoxolo Mbekeni, who lofted a pass in the open space. Maties keeper McKinley could not deal with it and Ludick touched the ball in from mid-air to put NWU on the board.

Maties though kept pressing after conceding and tried to send the ball out to create space for scoring opportunities on the Astro. Ross Anderson and Alex Stewart were influential in the first few minutes, without creating a big opportunity as the NWU took a 2-0 lead after the first quarter.

Lamprecht was brilliant on defence and made some fantastic tackles in pressure situations with a fantastic work rate in the green shorts.

The second quarter was evenly contested in the possession stakes with both Maties and NWU creating opportunities. Maties penetrated the circle more constantly with Stewart testing Mthokoza Mbotho, but the NWU stopper made a great save with his right leg to keep Maties scoreless.

Mbotho was really on top of his game in the second quarter and dives and stick clearances were also part of his repertoire as his heroics kept NWU in the lead at half-time.

The third quarter started with Maties once again having massive amounts of possession in the first five minutes. Countless visits to the D were met with resolute defence as NWU shut the door.

The constant pressure of the Maties attack finally reaped rewards in the 40th minute when Dayne Samboer slotted the ball into the net from their third penalty corner to narrow the score to 2-1.

Matthew Roman had two massive chances to get Maties into the lead but he missed the opportunities when scoring seemed easier.

The fourth quarter started with a replay of the first Maties goal as Samboer once again mashed the ball into the right top corner of the net to level the scores at 2-2.

The frenzy of the powerplay added some extra spice to the latter stages but there were no more goals to come as the match went to a penalty shootout which Maties ultimately won as their experience and composure shone through with.

Photos: Christiaan Kotze/SASPA

Wouter Pienaar
Sport Journalist

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