“I just took it as though it was in a training session,” said striker Dirkie Chamberlain after her unerring flick from the penalty spot with three minutes left won the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team the bronze medal against a gallant Spain by one goal to nil (1-0), at the Champions Challenge on the Glasgow Green stadium pitch in Scotland Sunday.
The 67th minute winner capped a thrilling match in which goalmouth action flew from end to end at an incredible pace. It was fastest match of the tournament, a remarkable feat considering it was each side’s sixth Test match in eight days.
The victory also served as a degree of consolation for the girls in green and gold who were desperately unfortunate to lose their Saturday semi-final to Ireland 2-1 despite dominating the match.
“We came out today and gave everything, it’s a wonderful team, we really got stuck in,” said Chamberlain. “We are elated but I must pay a compliment to Spain for giving us such a great match, they didn’t make it easy for us but we just kept going, never stopped believing.”
The crowd gave both sides a lengthy ovation in appreciation for a match that proved you don’t have to have a lot of goals to make for an enthralling contest, yet on another day the score might well have gone into double figures.
— SA Hockey Women (@sawomenshockey) May 4, 2014
— Illse Davids (@illsedavids) May 4, 2014
— Dirkie Chamberlain OLY (@dirkiewasha) May 4, 2014
Chamberlain had taken a fearful blow to the head as early as the seventh minute and had to be helped off, but the goalscorer returned to the fray less than five minutes later, indicative of the determination with which SA approached the match.
Both goalkeepers, Anelle van Deventer and Spain’s Maria Zubiria de Eguilaz Lopez, made a number of fine saves, while to a player both sides gave their all and then some. And it was not only on attack that both sides shone, despite the low score, with some of the SA tackle-backs to regain possession out of the top drawer.
Chamberlain’s winner came as a consequence of a brace of shots in succession from Celia Evans and Bernie Coston, this after SA captain Marsha Cox had made the initial pass, Coston’s effort hitting a defender’s foot on the goalline, and Chamberlain went low to Lopez’s right from the penalty spot for the decisive moment of the match.
It was an entertaining gold-medal match up as underdogs Ireland made the No. 10-ranked USA team work for 70 minutes straight to earn their gold medal, with Emma Smyth scoring in the 3rd minute for Ireland, which the USA’s 9th minute substitute Paige Selenski negated in favour of the USA in the 25th minute.
Caroline Nichols widened the USA’s advantage in the 35th minute, before Katie O’Donnell deliver the final winning blow in the 48th minute to earn tournament honours for her side.
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The SA team touch down in Johannesburg Tuesday morning, before flying to The Netherlands five days later and yet another training camp, ahead of the World Cup in The Hague from May 31 to June 15.
Fans can follow up on all the Champions Challenge action on the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) YouTube Channel, the FIH’s tournament page publishes all the results, added to the Twitter handle @FIH_Hockey using the #CC1 tag to catch the match updates there.
Bronze Medal Match Scorers: South Africa (0) 1 (Dirkie Chamberlain 67th minute) Spain 0 Pool B Fixtures and Results: 27 April: South Africa 2-2 Ireland (1-0) 28 April: South Africa 2-1 USA (0-1) 30 April: Spain 1-1 South Africa (1-1) 1 May: QuarterFinal: Scotland 1-2 South Africa (0-2) 3 May: Semi-Final: South Africa 1-2 Ireland (1-1) 4 May: 7th/8th Place Play-Off: Scotland 4-3 India (0-0) 4 May: 5th/6th Place Play-Off: Korea 1-1 Belgium (0-0) (Korea won shootout 2-1) 4 May: Bronze Medal Play-Off: South Africa 1-0 Spain (0-0) 4 May: Challenge Final: USA 3-1 Ireland (2-1) The Starting Investec SA Team: Anelle van Deventer Lisa Deetlefs Marcelle Manson Nicolene Terblanche Lenise Marais Marsha Cox (capt) Shelley Russell Bernie Coston Tarryn Bright Dirkie Chamberlain Celia Evans Rolling subs: Sanani Mangisa Quanita Bobbs Illse Davids Kelly Madsen Lilian du Plessis Kathleen Taylor Sulette Damons
Main photo caption: Dirkie Chamberlain (right) celebrates her winner from the penalty spot three minutes from full-time with Shelley Russell during South Africa’s 1-0 victory against Spain to win the bronze medal at the Champions Challenge in Glasgow, Scotland Sunday. Photo: Duncan Gray
Video Credit: Highlights of the FIH Champions Challenge I 3rd/4th place playoff, in which Investec SA beat Spain 1-0 to win the bronze medal, in Glasgow on Sunday, 4 May, 2014, courtesy the International Hockey Federation via YouTube
Video Credit: Highlights of the FIH Champions Challenge I gold medal match, in which the USA beat Ireland 3-1 to win the title, in Glasgow on Sunday, 4 May, 2014, courtesy the International Hockey Federation via YouTube
(With editing by gsport)