The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team put in a solid performance to beat Ukraine 2-0 after leading by the same scoreline at half-time in the Olympic Qualifier Tournament at New Delhi’s National Hockey Stadium in India Sunday.
The win sees SA well on course for next Saturday’s final. Head coach Giles Bonnet’s side beat Poland 2-1 Saturday for two wins from two starts.
The match exploded in the 20th minute when world record goal-scoring legend Pietie Coetzee showed magnificent anticipation to intercept a Ukraine pass across the goalmouth that was intended for their right half with a sliding deflection into the back of the net for her 233rd goal in 236 Test matches.
Six minutes from half-time SA went 2-0 up when a great pass from outstanding left half Lisa Deetlefs found striker Dirkie Chamberlain, who displayed remarkable stickwork and tenacity with very little space to work in, brushing off Ukraine defenders before popping the ball over the goalline.
With 22 minutes left in the match, the girls in green and gold were visibly disappointed when Lithuanian umpire Vilma Bagdanskiene disallowed what looked to be a legitimate goal, while at the other end midfielder and 2011 SA Player of the Year Tarryn Bright did well to backtrack to intercept a dangerous Ukraine move in the strike zone.
SA central defender Kate Woods was a tower of strength in cleaning up at the back, as Ukraine certainly had their moments, many of them involving influential captain Maryna Vynohradova.
One such opportunity occurred four minutes before half-time when Vynohradova opened up an opportunity for Maryna Khilko, but the SA defence held firm.
Indeed, the girls in green and gold were in control for much of the match.
Straight after the half-time break Coetzee’s initial shot from SA’s second penalty corner cannoned off the goalkeeper’s pads and Woods put the rebound over the crossbar.
SA had further shots at goal from Coetzee (three), Kathleen Taylor, Lauren Penny and Chamberlain as captain Marsha Marescia’s team worked hard to establish a three-goal cushion, but in the end two was enough.
Monday is a rest day, before SA meet Italy Tuesday at midday (8.30 am SA time). The next league game is against, India, who are still South Africa’s biggest rivals, that key match starting at 6 pm (2.30 pm SA time) Wednesday.
After Thursday’s rest day, SA conclude the league phase on Friday when they tackle Canada at 2 pm (10.30 am SA time).
The top two countries will face-up in next Saturday’s 6 pm (2.30 pm SA time) final.
Investec SA Olympic Qualifier Tournament Fixtures:Sat 18 Feb SA 2-1 Poland Sun 19 Feb SA 2-0 Ukraine Tue 21 Feb SA vs Italy Wed 22 Feb SA vs India Fri Feb 24 SA vs Canada Final: Sat Feb 25
Investec South Africa Team:Mariette Rix (Western Province) Kate Woods (Western Province) Shelley Russell (Western Province) Jade Mayne (Western Province) Lauren Penny (Western Province) Kathleen Taylor (Western Province) Tarryn Bright (Western Province) Marsha Marescia (capt) (Southern Gauteng) Lisa Deetlefs (Southern Gauteng) Bernadette Coston (Southern Gauteng) Pietie Coetzee (Southern Gauteng) Sanani Mangisa (Northern Blues) Dirkie Chamberlain (Northern Blues) Nicolene Terblanche (Northern Blues) Kim Hubach (Northern Blues) Lesle-Ann George (Free State) Lenise Marais (KZN Coastal Raiders) Sulette Damons (North West)