Captain Izelle Lategan’s South Africa U21 hockey team beat Canada 6-3 in their final Pool B match at the Women’s Junior World Cup in Mönchengladbach, Germany on Tuesday afternoon, to book a place in Thursday morning’s 9.30 am (SA time) quarter-final against defending champions The Netherlands.
The 2009 JWC silver medallists, Argentina, won Pool B following their 2-0 win over China. SA finished second and are also through to the top eight, while the Chinese and Canada will be playing off for positions nine to 16.
Three early SA penalty corners were not converted – one flashing over the crossbar – until Lilian du Plessis made no mistake with a fabulous drag flick into the Canadians’ goals. The SA strikers penetrated the Canadian defence and created numerous other chances, and head coach Lindsey Wright’s charges were disappointed to go into half time at 1-1, this after Priya Randhawa had equalised for Canada from open play.
“For South African hockey, the bigger picture of the win is that at this moment we are ranked one of the top eight women’s hockey nations in the world at U21 level,” said SA team manager Charmaine Koekemoer.
“The team has great fighting spirit and took the coach’s challenge at half-time, as the Canadians did not make it easy for us, packing their defensive third of the field with all 11 players at times.
“We dominated play for most of the match, but lost concentration to let the Canadians in the back door twice during the match,” Koekemoer added.
After half-time, SA stepped up the pace and a brace from Nicole Walraven – a variation goal and then a deflection – put daylight between the Africans and the North Americans (3-1). Then skilful SA striker Tanya Britz set up a decisive finish by Tiffany Jones before Canada pulled one back through Stephanie Norlander (4-2).
A penalty corner goal by South Africa’s Suléke Brand was matched quickly by Holly Stewart’s reply, for SA’s lead to remain at two goals (5-3). And as has been their custom in all three of their Pool B matches, the unbeaten SA side added another goal in the last minute, this one a Quanita Bobbs gem for the 6-3 final score.
World number 11 SA had drawn 3-3 against world number two Argentina, and 3-3 versus world seven China, in their earlier Pool B matches.
South Africa Pool B Fixtures, at the FIH Ergo Hockey Junior World Cup: 27 Jul: South Africa 3-3 China 28 Jul: Argentina 3-3 South Africa 30 Jul: Canada 3-6 South Africa Final Pool B Log (P/W/D/L/GD/Points): 1. Argentina 3 2 1 0 6 7 2. South Africa 3 1 2 0 3 5 3. China 3 1 1 1 -1 4 4. Canada 3 0 0 3 -8 0 FIH Ergo Hockey Junior World Cup Pools: Pool A: Ghana; Korea; the Netherlands; USA Pool B: Argentina; Canada; China; South Africa Pool C: Australia; India; New Zealand; Russia Pool D: Belgium; England; Spain; Germany SA U21 Junior World Cup Team at the 2013 Junior World Cup in Mönchengladbach, Germany, from 27 July to 4 August, 2013: Bronwyn Kretzmann (Western Province) Erin Hunter (Western Province) Nicole la Fleur (Western Province) Quanita Bobbs (Western Province) Sherry King (Western Province) Suléke Brand (Western Province) Taryn Mallett (Western Province) (vice-capt) Tarryn Glasby (Western Province) Izelle Lategan (Free State) (capt) Liné Malan (Free State) Tanya Britz (Free State) Nicole Walraven (Free State) Jacinta Jubb (Northern Blues) Lilian du Plessis (Northern Blues) Phume Mbande (Northern Blues) Tiffany Jones (North West) Toni Marx (Eastern Province) Nika Nel (Southern Gauteng)
(With editing by gsport)