Holland too good for SA | SASCOC - SASCOC

Holland too good for SA

A brave young Investec South African women’s hockey side went down 5-0 to Holland, the world’s best women’s hockey team in the first of the two-Test series in Ede on┬á Wednesday.

The match saw South Africa’s finishing let them down and Holland dominated the first half. They were rewarded with a brace of penalty corner goals from ace drag-flicker and captain Maartje Paumen. After the changeover, Ellen Hoog picked up two more ÔÇô her second goal in the second-last minute of an exciting Test match ÔÇô while dangerous Dutch striker Kim Lammers got the other.

Going into the fourth Test match in five days on their whistle-stop nine-day, eight-match tour of Europe, Investec SA were missing 700 Test caps-worth of experience in four key players who stayed at home due to exam commitments and injury, including world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee, but the spirited young side led by experienced World All Stars 2010 midfielder Marsha Marescia were good enough to create a number of chances that might have resulted in goals on any other day.

Midway through the first half, with the scoreline still reading 0-0, South Africa’s Celia Evans, the impressive Jade Mayne and Shelley Russell all fired off shots in quick succession but Dutch goalkeeper Floortje Engels was on hand to make a series of miraculous saves. That said, seven penalty corners without reply and a number of superb saves by SA keeper Hanli Hattingh spoke volumes for Holland’s dominance of territory and possession.

Holland bagged two goals soon after half-time and were tightening the screws on the SA youngsters when the game turned around in a wonderful 20-minute period for the never-say-die girls in the green and gold.

A penetrating run down the left wing by the pacy Sulette Damons produced an opportunity for Kelly Madsen, but goalkeeper Engels was again in the right spot to block the shot.

Quick SA midfielder Shelley Russell and her team-mates in the engine room ran hard at the Dutch defenders, who were on the back foot for much of the time, but the hard-earned experience that saw the girls in orange come back from a two-goal deficit to beat 2010 World Cup winners Argentina in the Champions Trophy final less than a month ago was evident in how they weathered the storm.

Nevertheless, the young South Africans can take much heart from their performance against a team including superstars in Paumen and Boksburg-born Marilyn Agliotti, who represented South Africa at the Sydney 2000 Olympics before emigrating.

The second and final Test against the Netherlands starts at 4.15pm Thursday before SA fly to Dublin, Ireland for three Tests against Scotland on neutral territory.