UWC had lost four of the previous five women’s finals, including a heart-breaking penalty shootout to TUT in 2019, but this time luck was on their side after the 90-minute goalless stalemate.
UWC came into the final as the overwhelming favourites to claim their first title having scored 12 goals in four matches, including four in their semifinal win against Wits. Tuks, who had beaten UJ 2-1 in their semi, had home ground advantage however.
In the eighth minute, UWC’s Khanya Xesi made a beautiful assist to Tiffany Kortjie, who failed to convert the chance.
UWC were patient with their build-up and camped in the Tuks’ half. They had more set-pieces, but did not capitalise on them and didn’t test the Tuks keeper Mapaseka Mpuru enough despite dominating the ball possession.
With the first half ending goalless, both teams showed a sense of urgency in the second.
Xesi, the tournament's leading scorer with five goals, was frustrated as she was tightly marked by the Tuks’ defence and couldn’t get a shot on goal.
As it happened, UWC had the ball in the back of the net twice. First Kortjie thought she had scored the first goal in the 61st minute with a tap-in only to see the flag raised.
Xesi then celebrated a late winner for UWC, but her goal was also ruled offside and the game went to penalties.
UWC's captain Sinegugu Zondi converted the winning penalty for after goalkeeper Regirl Ngobeni had saved three penalties from Betty Mallela, Morongwa Manamela and Gretel Buttress. Tuks' keeper Mpuru stopped Babalwa Mngxunya and Xesi’s efforts.
The shootout was level at 3-3 after 10 penalties, before Buttress’ miss allowed Zondi to win it in sudden death.
(UWC win penalty shootout, 4-3)
UWC: 1 Regirl Ngobeni, 8 Sinegugu Zondi (captain), 4 Simnikiwe Mhlakaza, 7 Antonia Maponya, 14 Zikhona Nogqala, 10 Babalwa Mngxunya, 19 Amogelang Motau, 3 Molatelo Kobo, 22 Tiffany Kortjie, 9 Khanya Xesi, 18 Janice Smith.
Substitutes: 17 Bongeka Gamede, 20 Andiswa Mthethwa, 23 Siphosethu Qokama, 24 Tshegofatso Senanya, 28 Phelisa Ncivata. - coach: Thinasonke Mbuli
FNB Player of the Match: Mmakhgotso Mashishi (Tuks)
FNB Player of the Tournament: Wendy Shongwe (Tuks)
FNB Golden Boot: Khanya Xesi (UWC) - 5 goals
Match report by Charles Baloyi/Varsity Sports. Photo: Catherine Kotze/Varsity Sports