SA hockey women third in Four Nations
16 July 2012
The South African women's hockey team finished third in the Four Nations tournament at Club zur Vahr in Bremen, Germany on Sunday after a Pietie Coetzee hat-trick sparked them to a 4-1 victory over giant-killers Belgium.
The event featured four Olympics-bound teams, including world number three, Germany, who downed world number six New Zealand 5-1 on Sunday to claim the title.
Belgium, ranked 16th in the world, were coming off a shock 1-0 win over Germany on Saturday but ran into a South African blitzkrieg as Coetzee nailed a second minute penalty stroke, followed by a penalty corner and field goal in the opening half hour to add to Jen Wilson's diving deflection goal in the fifth minute.
World record tally
The three goals took Coetzee's world record tally to 245 in 248 Test matches, 25 ahead of the previous record mark of 220. They also took her to four goals for the tournament, making her the event's leading goal scorer.
Belgium pulled a goal back in the 27th minute and enjoyed a very strong second half, but the early damage did the trick for South Africa.
World number 12 South Africa had five shots at goal and two penalty corners in the first half to Belgium’s two and one respectively, but Belgium turned the tables after the changeover to edge the match count with a total of 10 goal shots and four penalty corners to South Africa's seven and two.
Sunday's blitz began in the opening minute when a superb pass from centre back Kate Woods to Kathleen Taylor out on the right saw the attacking forward make ground under pressure before offloading to Coetzee, who was heavily fouled in the strike zone, resulting in a shot from the penalty spot (1-0).
In the fifth minute, industrious wing back Illse Davids fed Coetzee out on the right and the ball into the goal zone was finished in fine style by Wilson (2-0).
Seven minutes later, birthday girl Shelley Russell released Coetzee down the left after winning a turnover and the superstar striker won South Africa's first penalty corner, which she sent soaring into the net (3-0).
South African were guilty of conceding possession too often in the match and they were made to pay the price for that in the 27th minute when Belgium finally capitalised on a turnover.
It began with captain Charlotte de Vos, who relayed the ball to Lieselotte van Lindt. She fired the ball into the danger zone for Emilie Sinia to deflect home her side's first goal scoring opportunity (3-1).
Shortly after that, Russell used her blistering pace and admirable control down the left channel to set up an easy finish for Coetzee (4-1).
An in-form Mariette Rix kept South Africa's goal margin intact with several telling saves in the second half, while defender Lenise Marais had a good game at the back, as South Africa's successful strategy to limit Belgium's opportunities to go forward in the first half all but deserted them in the second against fiercely determined opponents.
South Africa had begun the tournament with a disappointing 5-1 loss to Germany, but on Saturday they enjoyed the better of play despite going down 1-0 to New Zealand.
The team next returns to South Africa to join Olympic Team South Africa at a holding camp in Pretoria.
FOUR NATIONS RESULTS
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material