SA lose thriller 1-0 | SASCOC - SASCOC

SA lose thriller 1-0

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team were desperately unlucky to lose the second and final Test match 1-0 against the world’s No10 side Spain just outside Barcelona Friday night after a goalless first half.

Spain won a thrilling first Test 3-2 on Thursday evening but the splendid Club Egara in Terrassa bore witness to a first half in which SA completely shut out the Spaniards. The second half was far more evenly matched as both sides struggled mightily for the advantage and three minutes from full-time Spain’s winner was scored by Barbara Malda from just their third opportunity of the match.

Outstanding midfielder Shelley Russell’s 100th Test was marked by the first chance of the match but goalkeeper Eguilaz de Lopez blocked her effort. Twelfth ranked SA dominated from the first whistle and Raquel Huertas, who utilized the right flank superbly the day before, was wrapped up by the defence, who were successful in cutting out the Spanish attacks and launching effective counters.

World All Stars midfielder and SA captain Marsha Marescia instigated the first penalty corner midway through the first half but Lesle-Ann George’s shot was blocked by the first-wave defender. Five minutes after half-time, SA keeper Mariette Rix was called on to make her first save as Spain fought their way back into the game.

A superb move left between Marcelle Keet, Tarryn Bright and Marescia saw SA sticks stretching for the deflection goal from the captain’s cross, but it was not to be. Six minutes from the end George intercepted a Spanish pass on their 23-metre line and drove into the strike zone but her shot shaved the wrong side of the post.

SA were dealt a fatal blow three minutes from the final whistle when Spanish umpire Pol Castella awarded two highly controversial penalty corners and from the second, Malda slapped the ball into the SA backboard. It was just Spain’s third shot on goal in the match.

SA were still without legendary striker Pietie Coetzee, the student who is in the final throes of her paramedic degree. The 219-Test Coetzee, just six goals short of breaking the world record of 220, joins the team on Saturday.

The final match in Spain is a clash with the outstanding Catalonia provincial team at midday on Sunday. SA then move on to Amsterdam and two Test matches against world hockey powerhouse Holland on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then it’s off to Dublin and a Test against Ireland before Marescia’s side go into the Champions Challenge tournament at University College, Dublin.