By staff reporter
The Hockey club, which received the “Most Improved Club of the Year Award” in 2008 Rhodes sports annual awards, are showing more and more improvement this year. The expectations were high as the Rhodes Men’s and ladies 1st sides departed for the annual USSA 2009 hockey tournament. The tournament took place from 28 June to 3 July in Bloemfontein, which is not the warmest place in the country especially during this time of the year. Both the sides started the tour off with double headers. The men pulled off two good victories with a 7-1 win over University of Limpopo and 3-1 victory over Cape Peninsula University of Technology. On the other side, the ladies had a good win over Central University of Technology by 4-0, and narrowly losing 3-2 to the hosts, University of Free State (Kovsies).
The second and third days saw both sides performing really well, to help them move into the semi finals. The men overcame Tuks B with a 4-2 victory and University of Namibia 3-2, while the purple ladies gave a thrilling 5-0 win against Fort Hare and North West University. The fourth day of tournament consisted of cross-pool play-offs. The ladies and men’s sides had deservedly earned a spot in the final, but first had to win their semi final games against some tough opposition. The ladies side came up against Cape Peninsula University of Technology. After a hardly fought 70 minutes, the game was to be decided by penalty flicks. The Rhodes women showed great composure and came out victors. Special mention must be made of Rosie Dwight, the Rhodes goalkeeper, who showed exactly why she is the first team goalkeeper. The men came up against Central University of Technology in their semi-final play off, where they proved to strong on this occasion, winning 5-1.
Day five of the tournament saw purple and white playing the finals of the USSA 2009 hockey tournament. The ladies took the field 15h00 and nerves were on edge as we faced Kovsies in the final, remembering we had lost 3-2 to them earlier in the week. The game once again went to penalty flicks after 70 minutes of normal time and 15 minutes of extra time. This time round the ladies couldn’t pull it off and ended runners up. The men took the field directly after this nail-biting game, as we faced a strong Wits side. Fighting back from a 2-0 half time deficit, we pulled it back to 2-2. The game went to extra time and could have gone either way as the golden goal rule applied during extra-time. As with the ladies, luck wasn’t on our side this time and Wits managed to squeeze a goal in.
Both teams came back home with silver medals in their respective B section tournament and had played out of their socks as never before. Special mention can be made of many players, who played with injuries day-in-day-out, but it’s the team that produced good results and pure determination from all the players, who did themselves proud and deserve the honour.