MAYBE due to the jostle for semifinal spots, yesterday’s Premier Hockey League (PHL) was as much about a glut of goals as it was about moving on the men and women’s tables.
A whopping 35 goals (including three from a shootout) – the most on any day thus far – were scored as the semifinal lineups started taking shape, with four goals by the Addo Elephants’ Ignatius Malgraff and a hat-trick by the St Lucia Lakers’ Kate Koenig.
The sackfuls of goals by the two came from the first two games, which opened the floodgates with 6-1 victories over the SA Under-21 teams, the Namaqualand Daisies and the Golden Gate Gladiators. The Daisies’ defeat by the Lakers was hardly a surprise given that they were yet to win a game in the tournament.
So Koenig’s hat-trick – accompanied by strikes from Jacinta Jubb (two) and Kara Stella – and a consolation effort by Daisies vice captain Tarryn Glasby – had a sense of inevitability about it.
The result secured the Lakers a place in the semifinals as they moved into second place two points behind the unbeaten Blyde River Bunters (13), who play them this afternoon.
The humbling of the hitherto competitive Gladiators was less predictable as the Elephants had yet to win a game in the competition. But some inspired goal-scoring by Malgraff, Julian Hykes and Damian Kimfley did a lot to dent the confidence the youngsters had built for their World Cup campaign in December.
The bonus points win means the Elephants, who are fifth on four points, are suddenly in contention for a semifinal place after one victory from four games.
The next nine goals were scored in a much tighter match, between the Madikwe Rangers and the Wineland Wings. Having finished on three-all in regulation time, it was time for the dreaded shootout again. And given that the poor Wineland Wings were there again, one could have foretold the result.
The Wings, who have the hollow victory of not having lost a game in regulation time here, have played in all three shootouts in this tournament and now lost all three.
The game had been a tight one at 1-1 with a quarter to go until the threat of a shootout focused the two teams’ minds in the final quarter, with three goals (two by the Rangers’ Louise de Jager and Lisa Hawker, and one by Kaila Flemming for the Wings) in three minutes.
Then Anche Nortje forced the shootout with a late equaliser, only for three of their penalty takers, Robyn Johnson, Heather McEwan and Flemming to miss their shootout goals while Lisa Deetlefs, Bernadette Coston and Frances Carstens succeeded.
Suddenly the Wings find themselves in a fight to the death against the Orange River Rafters today, who will go through to the semis if they beat them by five clear goals.
The Garden Route Gazelles again displayed that they’ll be formidable foes in tight games after finding a way to win again by coming back from 2-0 down against the Drakensberg Dragons to somehow win 3-2.
Goals by Luke Schooling, a tap in from a goalmouth scramble, and a trademark fierce drag flick from a short corner by Dave Agar had given the Dragons a comfortable 2-0 lead at halftime.
But the Gazelles got one back immediately after halftime with Luthando Jonas, before some wonderful teamwork got Kurt Hensberg a tap in to equalise. Satchi Reddy’s overhead flick from inside his own half found an unmarked Lloyd Norris-Jones in the Dragons’ 25, and he made the cross for Hensberg’s goal.
Then just as everyone thought the second shootout of the day was on, the Gazelles got a penalty stroke after Mo Mea inadvertently got his foot in the way in trying to keep Pierre de Voux’s shot out of goal on the line.
Norris-Jones stepped up and completed the comeback win.
In the upset of the day the Mapungubwe Mambas gave the Maropeng Cavemen a bloody nose by handing them their first defeat. Using a viper’s nest-like defence and aggression in attack, they convincingly beat the Cavemen 5-2 thanks to goals by Brandon Panther (two), Callum Buchanan, Ross Hetem and Ross Gonsalves.
Ricky West and Brynn Cleak got goals for the Cavemen in what everyone thought at the time was a comeback, but the Mambas were not to be denied. The result elevates the Mambas to third place, even though they need results to go their way, having finished their round-robin fixtures, while the Cavemen are now second to the Gazelles.