A debut goal by striker Lauren Penny four minutes from the end saved the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team’s blushes as they drew the first of the five-Test Investec International Series 1-1 against Spain at Randburg Hockey Stadium Sunday.
South Africa had more than their fair share of chances but could not find the target and it appeared that Olalla Pineiro’s neat field goal after 23 minutes would be the winner. Spain, too, could have scored more than once, but they at least forced keeper Mariette Rix into making saves more often.
World number 11 Spain started well, moving the ball fluidly, and SA captain Marsha Marescia made a number of crucial interventions in defence. In the eighth minute, Tarryn Bright freed Marescia for the first shot of the match, but Spain came closest to opening the scoring soon after.
SA central defender Kate Woods celebrated her 150th Test cap while for Penny, who has been living and playing in England, it was also a special day.
Midway, world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee got in a strong shot and another soon after following good work by Jade Mayne, who got in a shot of her own minutes later; then Dirkie Chamberlain went just past the far post.
However, Spain scored against the run of play with a well-taken Pineiro field goal 12 minutes from the break (1-0). A great ball down the line led to the first penalty corner but Marescia cleared and not long after saved a near-certain goal on the post.
Five minutes after the changeover Mayne shot wide of the far post, a good opportunity, but a determined SA won their first and only PC with 21 minutes to go. However, Coetzee’s power shot after the corner set-up was initially bungled went wide. Marescia broke right a little later but shot wide.
Rix saved from Gloria Comerma with eight left but four minutes later the girls in gold equalised when Penny finished off at the far post after Bright had cut through decisively. Soon after, Chamberlain’s reverse-stick shot flew over the crossbar.
SA will need a much-improved effort in the second Test against the Spaniards at 7 pm at Randburg Tuesday.
In the curtain-raiser, the SA Senior Invitation team beat SA Junior Invitation 4-3. Tuesday’s curtain-raiser is at 5 pm.
Investec International Series- South Africa vs Spain Fixtures and Results:15 January – Match 1: RSA 1-1 ESP 17 January – Match 2 / 19:00 19 January – Match 3 / 19:00 21 January – Match 4 / 14:00 22 January – Match 5 / 14:00
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