SA push Argentina | SASCOC - SASCOC

SA push Argentina

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team ran world champions Argentina down to the wire before losing 2-1 in the teams’ second match of the Four Nations tournament in Parana, Argentina early on Friday morning.

In a drama-filled clash that had everything for the big crowd, the goals came from Rosario Luchetti in the 14th minute and SA captain Marsha Marescia seven minutes after the break, before Daniela Sruoga grabbed the winner 11 minutes from the end.

To be fair, SA deserved at least a point; the fact they had five penalty corners to three is just one statistic that bears this out.

Much to their adoring fans’ delight, Las Leonas (the lionesses) are now through to the gold medal match (1am Monday, SA time).

After Friday’s much-needed rest day, it leaves SA and India in a do-or-die clash at 10.30 pm (SA time) Saturday to decide who Argentina’s opponents will be.

Earlier Thursday, India had beaten Ireland 2-1 in a passionate, hard-fought affair. As SA had drawn 2-2 with Ireland on Wednesday and India had lost 3-1 to Argentina, Saturday’s match is a must-win for SA while India need only draw.

In the last Four Nations tournament, South African went down 3-1 to Argentina in the final

SA went into the Argentina game without 2010 SA Player of the Year Lesle-Ann George, one of the team’s top players, who was injured in Wednesday’s match. George and Shelley Russell (hamstring) will miss the India match.

From the first whistle the SA/Argentina match was a no-holds-barred, all-action encounter. In the ninth minute Tarryn Bright intercepted and freed Sulette Damons, whose well-struck shot was off target. As was another soon after.

The deadlock was broken five minutes later when Sruoga fired the ball strongly into the scoring zone and the ever-present Rosario Luchetti was on hand to touch past SA keeper Mariette Rix (1-0).

In the 22nd minute, Indian umpire Nirmala Dagar awarded Liesel Dorothy a penalty corner after the forward was deliberately stick-checked but Kate Woods’s powerful shot was saved by keeper Nahir el Barri. At the other end SA protested against a PC awarded by Irish umpire Aisling Keogh to no avail and the upshot was Rix’s eventual save.

The pace of Damons forced a fine save from El Barri but earned SA’s second PC. Jade Mayne’s shot was turned away for a long corner, from which El Barri was again under pressure.

On half-time Argentina took a free-hit way off the mark. Despite SA protests play continued, Sruoga winning a PC, which Silvia Delia shot wide.

Two minutes after the changeover Dirkie Chamberlain brought a save from El Barri. Soon after, the striker was body-checked, but SA’s third PC didn’t work out. SA’s strong second-half start continued when Marescia equalised after the fourth PC (1-1).

Argentina’s second PC saw Rix make a double save before the match threatened to explode as tempers flared on and off the field, but it was Sofia Maccari who concentrated minds when her stinging shot went wide of the far post.

With 15 left it would take a brave man to gamble on the outcome but Delia made her presence felt when she drove the ball into the strike zone for Sruoga to deliver the final touch (2-1).

Liesel Dorothy’s incisive run won SA’s fifth PC but Argentina got away once again and a great run by Carla Dupuy ended with her shot sizzling past the wrong side of the post.

A great match that heralds something even better from SA and India Saturday.

Mariette Rix, Kate Woods, Illse Davids, Tarryn Bright, Shelley Russell, Jade Mayne, Kathleen Taylor (all Western Province);  Marsha Marescia (capt), Lisa Deetlefs, Bernie Coston (all Southern Gauteng); Sanani Mangisa, Nicolene Terblanche, Dirkie Chamberlain (all Northern Blues); Sulette Damons, Celia Evans (both North West); Liesel Dorothy (Eastern Province). Lesle-Ann George (Free State) injured.

Remaining fixtures (all SA time) ÔÇô Saturday: India vs SA (10.30 pm); Argentina vs Ireland (1 am Sunday). Sunday: bronze medal match (10.30 pm); gold medal match (1am Monday).