BECC2023 | Exciting Start to the Belgotex Elite Club Challenge
The 2023 Belgotex Elite Club Challenge kicked off at the Riverside Sports Club with great anticipation. Fourteen teams, including renowned SouthAfrican Club Hockey powerhouses and international stars, gathered for a thrilling opening day of the tournament.
In the first match, the two-time champions Wanderers faced a resilient Kearsney team. It was a closely fought battle, but the Johannesburg giants secured a hard-fought victory, thanks to a sliding finish from Thabang Modiseand a powerful strike from Brandon Panther, ultimately earning them four points.
Central Hockey Club made an impressive debut at the Belgotex Elite ClubChallenge against two-time winners WPCC Badgers. The Cassiem brothers shone, delighting the large crowd with their menacing performance. Central Hockey Club took an early lead with goals from Dayaan and Connor Beauchamp. Although WPCC Badgers' Cam Ryan pulled one back, Central Hockey Club extended their lead with thunderous efforts from Daniel Buyns and a reverse strike from Mustapha, resulting in a convincing 4-1 lead. Ryan managed to score another goal for WPCC Badgers, but it was too little, too late.
In a somewhat disjointed match, the defending champions Beaulieu capitalised on their opponents' errors to secure a victory over PHBOS. The game showcased moments of fatigue, as both teams had traveled on the same day. Dalpiarro Langford made the difference for Beaulieu, taking advantage of a defensive error and expertly converting a sublime penalty corner. Although the performance fell short of their expectations, the 2022 Champions secured all the points to start their campaign.
The night's most thrilling encounter featured the hosts Riverside against debutants Morningside Country Club. Morningside took the lead twice through goals from Banzi Giyose and Kristofer Watt, but Riverside fought back to secure a 3-2 advantage with goals from Dan Sibbald, Tanner Bottomley, andTaylor Kelly-Stack. Julian Hykes displayed his skill and determination, scoring twice to put Morningside in the lead 4-3 with just nine minutes remaining.Riverside equalised through Sibbald, but Morningside regained the lead with a goal from McLachlan four minutes before the end. Sibbald completed his hat-trick, resulting in a draw, and the game went to a shootout, whichRiverside won, earning them an additional point.
The four men's games on the opening day produced a total of 21 goals, while the two women's games added another 9 goals, bringing the tournament's tally to an impressive 30 goals.
The Riverside women, the most successful team in the tournament's history, began their title defense in style with a 2-0 victory over Phoenix Hockey Club. Jacinta Jubb, considered one of the top goal scorers in Kwazulu Natal, opened the scoring, and Kerryn Hall added a second goal, leaving the hosts satisfied with their performance.
Despite falling behind 1-0 to an Olivia Dillion goal, Western Province Cricket Club Beavers turned the tables and scored three unanswered goals through Brady Wiseman, Sasha Siversten and Ashleigh Thomas. Sasha Dikotla pulled one back for Wanderers, but Western Province Cricket Club Beavers responded with determination, and Nicole Koenig netted a brace to secure a comfortable victory.