The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team won the five-Test Investec International Series against Spain 2-1, after the final international ended 1-1 at Randburg Sunday.
SA trailed 1-0 at half-time after Spanish captain Julia Menendez’s superb goal in the 14th minute, but a lightning-enforced delay – with 29 minutes left – was kind to the girls in green and gold, as world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee scored the vital equaliser that denied the Spaniards a series-equalling victory.
SA were intent on winning the match or at least earning a draw which would give them the series 3-1 or 2-1 respectively, while Spain were all-out to level the series 2-2, after the first Test was drawn. The second Test went 3-2 to Spain, the third 3-1 to SA and the fourth 3-0 to SA.
Play swung to and fro from the outset, Spain still the better team in terms of keeping the ball though the phases, and they made the breakthrough when Maria Tost’s thrust up the right channel set up Menendez’s blast into the net (1-0).
SA went in search of the equaliser from the re-start but Coetzee’s rocket shot went into the side-netting. Then, 13 minutes from half-time, Jade Mayne did well to create something for Lauren Penny, but it was a 30-70 chance.
However, Spain’s dynamism down the right continued to trouble SA, and centre back Kate Woods made a critical clearance. Carlota Petchame, Spain’s best player, was a thorn in SA’s side wherever she popped up with the ball, her enviable close control a lesson to the scores of schoolchildren. Olalla Pineiro was not far behind.
With three to half-time, Illse Davids’ superb reverse-stick pass set up the match’s first penalty corner, but Woods’ shot was saved by keeper Isabel Barguno. SA won their second PC on the hooter but a possible equaliser was not to be.
Two minutes after the changeover the talented Olivia Pineiro made ground in close confines, but her shot sizzled past the post. After six minutes, play was halted due to thunder and lightning.
Almost an hour later play resumed, and the crowd erupted when Coetzee soon equalised (1-1). Play ebbed and flowed with both sides having opportunities, but striker Lauren Penny and captain Marsha Marescia were instrumental in SA finishing the stronger side, to seal the 2-1 series victory.
Marescia picked up the Investec Player of the Series Trophy just ahead of Petchame and Woods.
SA have a short break before the Investec Tri-Nations that includes Belgium and Ireland kicks off on Wednesday, continuing until February 6 – all at Randburg.
Investec International Series- South Africa vs Spain Fixtures and Results:15 January – Match 1: RSA 1-1 ESP 17 January – Match 2: RSA 2-3 ESP 19 January – Match 3: RSA 3-1 ESP 21 January – Match 4: RSA 3-0 ESP 22 January – Match 5: RSA 1-1 ESP
South Africa:Jade Mayne (KZN Coastal Raiders) Lenise Marais (KZN Coastal Raiders) Kelly Madsen (KZN Coastal Raiders) Cindy Botha (KZN Coastal Raiders) Kate Woods (WP) Kathleen Taylor (WP) Mariette Rix (WP) Shelley Russell (WP) Illse Davids (WP) Tarryn Bright (WP) Lesle-Ann George (Free State) Tanya Britz (Free State) Nicolene Terblanche (Northern Blues) Sanani Mangisa (Northern Blues) Kim Hubach (Northern Blues) Dirkie Chamberlain (Northern Blues) Marsha Marescia (capt) (Southern Gauteng) Lisa-Marie Deetlefs (Southern Gauteng) Bernadette Coston (Southern Gauteng) Pietie Coetzee (Southern Gauteng) Celia Evans (North West) Sulette Damons (North West) Liesel Dorothy (EP) Lauren Penny (Slough, England) Head coach: Giles Bonnet
Spain:Maria Lopez de Eguilaz Julia Menendez (capt) Rocio Ybarra Maria Lopez Andrea Puig Berta Bonastre Carlo Petchame Marta Prat Paul Dabanch Barbara Malda Raquel Huertas Pilar Sanchez Anabel Flores Maria Tost Lola Riera Olalla Pineiro Isabel Barguno Xantal Gine Beatriz Perez Gloria Comerma Georgina Oliva Head coach: Salvador Indurain