Despite leading for the better part of the match at Callie Human Hall in Bloemfontein on Monday, Kovsies succumbed 62-60 to Maties in the Varsity Netball final.
The visitors, Maties, got the first semifinal underway with the first center pass and goal. Although Kovsies started with a few errors, goalkeeper Ané Retief was the first to break a Maties center pass with a neat interception under the Maties goalpost. An unfortunate error by the home side saw Maties leveling the scores again.
Kovsies quickly took a one-goal lead once more, with their defenders picking up a loose ball in the Maties circle, followed by a Kovsies center pass to stretch their lead to two goals.
A rebound gathered by Jana Scholtz started her side’s rampant attack as they extended their lead, with exceptional shooting from Rolene Streutker and Lefébre Rademan, to five goals. Kovsies center, Sikholiwe ‘Sne’ Mdletshe, ended the first quarter with a classy interception and the scores standing at 17-12.
The Maties side got the second quarter underway with changes in their defense. With Stephanie Brandt off, Khomotso Mamburu moved to the goalkeeper, Sasha-Lee Petersen moved to goal defense, and Caleigh Stuart came on at wing defense. The home side made their first goal difficult, but an early interception by Maties center, Jo Prins, saw them closing the deficit to three goals, but an overthrow saw Kovsies back ahead by four.
With just over six minutes left in the first half, interceptions and rebounds gathered by Retief saw the Kovsies extending their lead to eight.
Maties made changes to their defense again with five minutes left, with Mamburu and Petersen moving back to goal defense and wing defense respectively. Nicola Smith came on at goalkeeper.
Rebounds gathered under the Kovsies goalpost saw the visitors closing the deficit to four goals and an overthrow narrowed the gap further to three goals, ending the first half 32 goals to 29 in favour of the local ‘Dream Team’.
Maties started the second quarter with an immediate turn of the Kovsies center pass to take them within a goal of the home side. Three minutes into the quarter, Kovsies were forced to make their first change as Oageng Khasake replaced an injured Khanyisa Chawane, followed by Maties evening the scores at 33 goals each.
An interception by Maties goalkeeper Smith saw her side taking the lead for the first time in the game and quickly extending it to five goals. With Khasake finding her feet, Kovsies clawed their way back within two goals. Shortly after, Chawane was back and classy play from the ‘Dream Team’ saw them level the scores at 40 goals apiece.
Maties again capitalised on the Kovsies’ mistakes to take their lead back to five goals at the end of the third quarter with the score standing at 47-42 in favour of Maties.
With both Powerplays still to come, the visitors took the first center pass of the final quarter. Three minutes into the quarter, the first of the Powerplays were called with Maties getting the upper hand to extend their lead to seven goals. This was shortly followed by a caution for Prins, and Kovsies closing the deficit to four goals.
Maties again capitalised on the home side’s errors and extended their lead to seven goals, with Kovsies’ Powerplay still to come.
As if the final quarter was not tense enough, the final Powerplay was forced in the final two minutes, starting just before a Maties goal. This saw the visitors keeping up the pressure to book their spot in final with a two-goal lead, ending the match 62-60.