SNIPERS AND ALL STARS BASK IN PRINCESS GLORY
by Peter le Grange
The Synsport Strikers won the Princess Pro Series for the first time in an exciting final at Hartleyvale on Sunday, while the Jewel Africa All Stars maintained their proud record of winning the ladies’ competition four times out of four after a similar nail-biter.
The Jewel Africa All Stars took the lead in the ladies’ final as early as the third minute when Tarryn Glasby fired a field goal home. The teams took part in an eight-goal thriller in the pool match on Friday, and the All Stars knew that a single goal was not enough. Even so, the Eurolux Fireflies could not find a way past Charne Jansen in the All Stars goal until Niki du Toit found a gap to force the equaliser with just eleven minutes remaining. With neither side able to break the dead-lock, the crowd was treated to the excitement of a Princess Showdown. Paula Dollman bravely took her place in the line-up for the Fireflies, and scored with the last showdown to level matters at 2-2, but keeper Jamie Allen was unable to deny Gina Sole as the All Stars won the shoot-out 3-2.
Paula Dollman was very ill and wasn’t able to play many minutes in the final but her good performances earned her the award as Princess Player of the Tournament. Glasby, a player to watch for the future who has already forced her way into the Western Province Under 21 team while still at school, took the award for the highest goal-scorer.
The mens’ final was a pulsating affair. Anyone who thought this tournament was a glorified Sunday social would have got a totally different impression as the two best teams in the series went at each other hammer and tongs. Umpires Sean Rappaport and Neil Leachman had their work cut out as tempers frayed as the match progressed. The first half saw end-to-end action, but keepers Matthew Bekker for the Synsport Snipers and Francois du Toit for the Printing Press Pharaohs were in uncompromising mood.
The teams had met on Friday night, and the Snipers had battled to get past the talented du Toit, and it was pretty much the same old story as attack after attack was thwarted. The half-time scoreline of 0-0 belied the non-stop action. Something had to give, and six minutes into the second half Ros Edwards fired in a powerful reverse stick shot to give the Pharaohs the lead, but just two minutes later a well-placed reverse shot by Vaughn Erasmus saw the scores level again.
The Pharaohs knew it would be a dangerous game to concede penalty corners with WP men’s drag flicker Devin Stanton lurking in the opposing side, and it was a low drag-flick from Stanton which put the Snipers into the lead with fifteen minutes remaining. Despite some furious attacks from the Pharaohs, they were unable to get the equaliser, giving the Synsport Snipers a 2-1 victory.
There was some consolation for Lungile Tsolekile, as he was named the Princess Player of the Tournament despite ending up on the losing team. Another Pharaohs player, Ben Wiley, was the top goalscorer for the men.
Earlier, the Enriching Life Eagles took third place in the men’s competition with a 2-0 over the Strata Civil Serpents, who ended the tournament without a win. Callum Buchanan, the Man of the Match, scored in the first minute and a second first half goal from Daniel Bell settled the matter. Robin Timm took the pink socks for the losers.
The ladies’ third place match was also decided on a Princess Showdown after the Maidens and TEAM Strikers played out a 1-1 draw. Both goals came in the second half, as Farah Fredericks gave the Maidens the lead in the 32nd minute only for Chantelle Britz to equalise for the Strikers with eleven minutes left on the clock. Only Fredericks could convert her showdown as the TEAM Strikers won the shoot-out 3-1.
In the under 18 event, the Boland HPH Wonders girls won the girls’ section and the Enriching Life Eagles boys’ team took the honours.
Final: Synsport Snipers 2, Printing Press Pharaohs 1
Enriching Life Eagles 2, Strata Civil Serpents 0
Final: Jewel Africa All Stars 1, Eurolux Fireflies 1 (All Stars won showdown 3-2)
Team Strikers 1, Maidens 1 (Strikers won showdown 3-1)