A 4-1 win over Canada at the Tshwane University of Technology on Sunday ensured the SPAR South African women’s hockey team a 2-0 series victory over the visitors.
The South Africans came out with a point to prove after some lackluster displays in the two previous matches, and showed some ruthless finishing skills in front of goal – unfortunately, not from the strikers, but rather attacking midfielders.
Of the South African strikers, Henna du Buisson seemed way off the pace and was caught far behind the ball too many times to actually make much of an impact up front. Du Buisson’s frustration also led to silly mistakes which eventually had her sent off for a time-out after she picked up a yellow card.
The job fell to captain Marsha Marescia in central midfield and she filled the role with aplomb. Marescia’s midfield then had to work even harder to get the ball forward, but they starting moving outside more often which gave them more options.
Kathleen Taylor scored South Africa’s first goal in the 14th minute from open play after the home team put some pressure on the Canadian goal early on. Then, just on halftime, Marescia banged in South Africa’s second.
South Africa took the break two goals up, but coach Jenny King gave them a good talking to after noticing some lapses in concentration.
“We’ve been picky about sticking to our basic disciplines because if we want to come naturally then we have to make sure we keep drilling it in to the players now,” said King. “I had to reinforce that at halftime.”
Marescia came back to show her skill in the 42nd minute when her solo run through centre midfield set Vida Ryan up to score South Africa’s third. Three up and smarting from the skill they’d just showed, South Africa’s concentration took a dip and Canada’s Kim Buker was able to put one past the home team’s defense in the 59th minute.
Lesle-Anne George, however, came back to score South Africa’s fourth in the 68th minute from another brilliant midfield display. George received the ball just outside the box and went left into a pocket of space and shot hard. Dirkie Chamberlain was waiting for the ball at the far post, but George angled the ball beautifully and Chamberlain’s services weren’t needed in the end.
Coach King was happy with her team’s performance, but added that they still had a long way to go this year.
“There’s still so much we need to work on, but we’ve now set a benchmark and have to keep aiming there and going for continual improvement especially since this is an Olympic year.” King said.
South Africa and Canada take on Russia in the SPAR CUP, three nations tournament taking place at the Randburg Hockey Stadium, starting on Monday and ending on Saturday.
Result third match
South Africa – Canada 4-1
SPAR SA Goal Scorers: Kathleen Taylor, 14th minute, Marsha Marescia (Capt), 35th minute, Vida Ryan, 42nd minute, Lesle –Ann George, 68th minute
Canada Goal Scorer: Kim Buker, 18th minute