School of Excellence Hockey Club’s steady progress was underlined on Monday night when their men’s premier league team beat log leaders Saints for the first time.
The league has been dominated by Saints and the defending champions Windhoek Old Boys in recent years, but SoE have now closed the gap on the top two to emerge as the dark horses in the title race.
Coached and started by former Unam and national women’s hockey Erwin Handura a few years ago, SOE came third last year and are now once again third on the log on six points, with Saints leading on nine and Old Boys second on eight points.
In a physical and fiery encounter on Monday, SOE took a narrow 1-0 halftime lead after Baggio Karigub put them ahead from a short corner.
The tempo picked up at the start of the second half with three goals in two minutes. Joshua Hatton Jones equalised for Saints and they then went 2-1 ahead from an Owen Hatton short corner, but Delron Handura immediately struck back to draw SoE level at 2-2.
Saints regained the lead through an Aiden Landry field goal, but SoE came back attacking as Karigub completed his hattrick with two short corner goals in two minutes to give SoE a thrilling 4-3 victory.
Handura said it was a very physical and dirty game.
“It was a very physical game, unluckily we dont have the footage, but it was a very dirty game from Saints’ side. One of my defenders was hit with a stick on the head, Baggio was hit on the wrist and I think Delron was on the floor two or three times. But I think my guys were very disciplined and that of course which counts in your favour, because we were still focussed on doing the right thing till the end,” he said.
“This was the first time that SoE has beaten Saints – last year we finished third and our aim this year is to finish in the top two. But this is my final year to build the team, next year we want to win the indoor league,” he added.
Handura, though, was a bit hesitant to declare themselves as title contenders this season.
“I won’t say we are title contenders now, but our aim was to close the gap between us and the top two teams, the defending champions, Old Boys, and Saints. We have to close that gap if we want to win the league next year – we are quite happy with our preparations and performances and I think we are closing that gap,” he said.
Despite that defeat, Saints still top the log, while Old Boys are hot on their heels after thumping DTS 11-0 on Tuesday night.
WOB captain Ernest Jacobs opened the scoring with a field goal after three minutes and they soon went into overdrive, streaking into a 6-0 lead by halftime, before completing a resounding win.
Jacobs and Petrus Theron led the way with three goals each, while Kevin Barnard, Percy Barthram, Dian La Cock, Jack Fourie and Rudi Prinsloo scored one goal each.
In another men’s premier league match on Monday, Old Boys II beat Saints II 5-4 after a late winner by Siyabonga Martins.
Martins scored three goals in total, with Bucko Bartlett adding two, while Liam Bruys and Abraham Graham scored two goals each for Saints II.
DTS, meanwhile, went further ahead on the women’s premier league log after a comprehensive 5-0 victory against Old Boys on Tuesday night.
They took a while to break down WOB’s defence, with a short corner goal by Caitlin Gillies all they had to show by halftime, but ramped up the pressure after the break with four more goals through Jaime Gillies (two), Tisha Semedo and Wendy Milne.
That win put the defending champions well ahead on the log on 19 points from five matches, although Saints (on eight) and WOB (on seven) both have two matches in hand, and can still narrow he gap.
Saints, meanwhile, beat Wanderers 5-0 on Tuesday, with Erin Taylor Moffett and Azaylee Philander scoring two goals each and Abi Rowles one.