By Mark Etheridge
The South African women’s hockey team suffered their second 4-1 defeat on the trot in the FIH World League Semi Final tournament in Valencia, Spain on Saturday.
After losing to Ireland by the same margin earlier in the week, new coach Sheldon Rostron would have been hoping his side would bounce back in this crucial 2016 Olympic Games qualifying tournament.
And they started off well with Dirkie Chamberlain putting the white-vested SA team ahead at the Campode Hockey Valencia venue.
The No12 capitalised on a poor clearance in the 6th minutes and thundered down the left flank, hurtling through the defence into the scoring zone and although she scuffed her shot it was still enough to beat the US keeper.
The US bounced back and battered the SA defence and it was with less than two minutes to go in the first half before they pulled back through skipper Lauren Crandell, celebrating her 250th international cap. SA’s Shelley Russell was off the field, serving a time-out after receiving a green card.
Halftime came and went all square but it didn’t stay that way long and two minutes into the half it was Katelyn Falkogwski (herself a veteran of 200 caps) who made it 1-2.
It was only in the final quarter that SA won their first penalty corner and although SA had the ball in the net through Lisa Deetlefs but it was ruled too high.
The game floated even further from the South Africans as unmarked Katelyn Sharkey deflected a shot past ‘keeper Sanani Mangisa, It got worse for SA as goalscorer Chamberlain was yellow-carded in the dying stages.
And there to rub painful salt into SA wounds with a minute to go was Jill Witmer, notably also unmarked.
South Africa’s defence was tigerish but if truth be told they were lucky not to ship more goals after the amount of possession and circle penetrations afforded to the US.
South Africa now take on Uruguay on Sunday afternoon before taking on the fearsome Germany on Tuesday.
In the picture, SA players celebrate Chamberlain’s opening strike. Picture courtesy of FIH.