ATHENS 2004 Olym- pian Tsoanelo Pholo netted a stunning opening goal and then engineered the winner as Southern Gauteng retained the SA women's interprovincial hockey title with a 2-1 win in the final over Western Province at the KC March astro, Gelvandale, at the weekend.
It was a triumph for coach Garreth Ewing's Johannesburg girls who ended with a 100% win record in the tournament, while for the Southerns veterans – captain Pietie Coetzee and the irrepressible Pholo – it was yet another sweet victory.
Southerns dominated much of the game and opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Roxy Turner fired in a cross from the right, which Pholo deflected high into the net.
WP equalised in the 18th minute when Leigh Boardman's well-struck penalty corner deflected off flying first wave Sammy Prost's stick and looped just under the crossbar.
Turning around with the score locked at 1-1, it was Pholo once again who provided the spark when she nailed a reverse-stick cross from the lefthand corner into the danger zone in the 64th minute and competent centre back Annelien Davin, in trying to intercept the dangerous ball, deflected it over the WP goalline for an own goal.
In the entertaining bronze medal match, Northern Blues beat North West 4-2 to retain their third-place ranking in SA women's hockey. Northerns led for three-quarters of the match and North West were always chasing the game.
Coach Gregg Hesom's Pretoria girls scored goals through Kate Koenig and captain Nicolene Terblanche before a brace from Lenthea Kamffer finally restored parity for coach Elun Hack's Potchefstroom lasses after 45 minutes.
However, Northerns pulled away again via the sticks of Marlene Nortje and vice-captain Kim Hubach for the 4-2 final scoreline.
One of the day's highlights was the tussle for fifth place between Eastern Cape rivals Border and Eastern Province.
Wednesday's Pool A match went the way of Border 4-0, but it was EP who displayed the tenacity to come back in a typically hard-fought derby in which they had trailed since Danielle Judge's 14th-minute goal.
The lively Toni Marks equalised with a well-struck penalty corner 10 minutes from the final whistle and the ensuing best-of-five penalty shootout saw keeper Michelle Cremer in fine form for EP to eventually prevail 2-1 in a heart-stopping atmosphere.
In the B section final between two sides with four wins from four starts, KZN Inland began beautifully with a seventh-minute goal by Caitlyn Seegers to open the scoring, but the Maritzburg girls were unable to capitalise on this great start by scoring more goals.
Witwatersrand clawed their way back and Georgia Carpenter netted the equaliser five minutes after half-time. Wits finished strongly but the encounter was forced into extra-time, and finally a penalty shootout, where Wits prevailed 2-0.
EP Settlers ended third, a much-improved Mpumalanga fourth, KZN Mynahs fifth, SA Country Districts B sixth, SA Country Districts A seventh and Southern Cape eighth.