Investec South Africa women’s hockey co-captain Marsha Cox (nee Marescia) says her side needs to capitalise on opportunities in their match against Spain tonight.
Cox was speaking after England beat South Africa 4-1 after leading 2-1 at half-time in the opening round of Pool B in the Investec World League semi-final tournament at University of Westminster in Chiswick, London Saturday night.
England scored through field goals from Susie Gilbert in the 21st minute and Sophie Bray (28th) in the first half and another from Alex Danson four minutes after the break (39th) before Giselle Ansley slotted the fourth goal two minutes from the end (68th) from the host nation’s fourth penalty corner.
World record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee scored SA’s goal on the half-time whistle (35th minute) from her side’s fifth penalty corner to take her tally to 273 goals in 268 Test matches.
SA head coach Giles Bonnet said it was a lesson learnt in that the team needed to be more efficient but gave credit to England for making the most of their chances as well as for defending very well in the second half.
England head coach Jason Lee said amongst his comments that the score flattered England somewhat.
SA dominated the penalty corner count 6-4 but outstanding England keeper Maddie Hinch was equal to the challenge provided by Coetzee and company.
SA keeper Sanani Mangisa was also influential but essentially England were able to create more clear-cut opportunities from close-range in the first half. That said, world number 11 SA dominated the first half and had a flurry of penalty corners that Hinch was able to save and clear while world number four England had the better of things after the changeover, Mangisa also making a couple of diving stick saves.
Tarryn Bright for SA and Susie Gilbert for England were influential in midfield while in schoolgirl Lily Owsley the English have a top-class forward in the making.
Sunday’s first two matches, in Pool A, were closer affairs than might have been expected with world number seven China beating world 17 Italy 2-1 and world two Argentina beating world 10 the USA 1-0. World ranking credibility was restored somewhat when sixth-ranked Australia outplayed world 15 Spain 5-0 in the other Pool B match.
SA are, in terms of Test appearances, the most experienced team in the Investec World League with 1 194 caps between them but England have eight of their Olympic side here who played in the London 2012 semi-finals and the bronze medal match, so a core of their top players know all about the big occasion.
SA, too, know about pressure matches, and have nine players from their London 2012 Olympic campaign.
SA meet Spain at 8.30 pm (SA time) Sunday in a match that will be live on SuperSport.
A big incentive for SA is that they are only 23 points behind the USA on the world rankings; a minimal amount in hockey’s ranking system and a better showing than the Americans in the Investec World League will likely propel the South Africans to a better position.