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Late goal sinks SA

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team went down 3-2 to Spain after a controversial extra time winning goal in their champions Challenge quarter-final in Dublin on Thursday.

This after superstar striker Pietie Coetzee netted with two minutes left to draw the scores level and send the clash into a dramatic period of extra time.

Unbeaten in Pool A, it was a body blow to coach Giles Bonnet’s girls who seemed to improve with every outing. They drew their first match 2-2 against Scotland, thrashed Japan 5-1 and then had a thrilling 5-5 draw with the surprise package United States. The result could mean that the South African team don’t get to next year’s Olympic Games in London and it would be tragic were a controversial goal to stand between them.

In the first half South Africa had six shots on goal to Spain’s one but only had Sulette Damons’s field goal nine minutes from the changeover to show for their efforts while Spain’s most dangerous player Raquel Huertas buried her side’s lone opportunity five minutes later. In the second half Barbara Malda put the Spaniards ahead only for Coetzee’s late goal to force extra time

SA continued to force Spain into mistakes and four minutes into sudden-death Coetzee had a great chance from Kathleen Taylor’s pass but shot wide of the far post, a fate that Dirkie Chamberlain suffered after doing great work a minute later, reports Jon Cook from Dublin

In extra time, just like the entire match, the SA team were dominant but again the chances were not taken as the teams turned around immediately for the final seven-and-a-half minutes.

Just after the changeover Chamberlain earned SA a penalty corner but Coetzee’s bullet flick was brilliantly stick-saved by the defender stationed on the far post.

With two minutes to golden goal extra-time’s end, the streetwise Huertas ÔÇô South Africa’s nemesis ÔÇô manufactured a controversial PC with a classic soccer-player dive and Spain’s Pilar Sanchez fired in the winner with less than two minutes on the clock for 3-2 and a berth in the semi-finals.

It was a cruel blow to SA who had 80% of the game and the shots on goal.

Just as cruel a blow was the first-time experimental format for this tournament. South Africa won Pool A and in any other tournament would have gone straight into the semi-finals. Instead, Spain, who finished last in Pool B, were given a second shot at glory and they go into the last-four while SA, arguably the team of the tournament, are now consigned to the play-off for fifth to eighth place.


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