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Taylor to the rescue

South Africa have got their BDO Champions Challenge hockey tournament off to a winning start, beating Chile 1-0 at Hartleyvale, Cape Town.

The home team took initiative from the starting whistle, and eight minutes into the game, Kathleen Taylor put them on the scoreboard with a bouncy reverse stick hit that went through between goalkeeper Claudia Schuler’s legs. That turned out to be the only goal of the match and thus the decide.

South Africa kept a good grip on the game after the goal but could not pull further away, with the Chilean players were trying hard but suffering from too many unforced errors and sloppy mistakes. Up front, Daniela Infante, her country’s all-time leading female goalscorer, was most dangerous for Chile, but even she could not get the “Reds” a good shot on goal.

South Africa had a good many circle penetrations but were unable to extend their lead.

In the 28th minute, Taylor wasted a perfect opportunity after taking advantage of a terrible mistake by Sofia Walbaum in the Chilean defence that saw Walbaum give away the ball with an open path to the goal for Taylor. Already past the goalkeeper, Taylor shot for the open goal from the far left, but the ball went wide.

In the final minutes of the first half, Chile were finally able again to get near the South African circle a few times, but lost the ball too easily to create any real danger. The hosts maintained their lead and went into halftime 1-0 up.

In the opening minutes of the second half, the teams seemed more evenly matched, after Chile shifted up a gear and played more focused hockey. This settled the two teams in a deadlock however, that neither of them was able to break out of until Chile started falling back into first half patterns and giving away the ball too easily.

But South Africa could not make use of their opponents’ weak moment. The relief showed on their faces when the final whistle absolved them, as the Chileans left with hanging heads after having come so close to a first major upset in the event.