The Investec SA Hockey side have just completed a fantastic run of fixtures against Australia, Belgium, Holland and Scotland. Through the various series, the ladies play 16 tests and were only defeated four times. We have a look back at an overview of the summer series just passed.
South Africa opened up the season wearing black armbands for the recently departed Peter le Grange, a former international hockey administrator, against World number 1 and double defending Olympic Champions, Holland in the first games at Hartleyvale. In the opening game they were horribly outdone by the brilliant Maartjie Paaumen who rocked home a hat-trick in a 5-0 scoreline. Investec South Africa looked better in the second game and managed to get on the scoresheet through Kathleen Taylor and were level at halftime at 1-1. But Holland showed their class and knocked away four goals in eight second half minutes to win the game 5-1. It was a tough start to the Summer, but it was one that ultimately boded well for our national team.
Fresh from the humbling defeats to the top ranked side in the World, Investec South Africa took on the fourth ranked Aussies over a three game series. The opening game produced a thriller. SA led 1-0 through Dirkie Chamberlain, trailed 2-1 then led 3-2 thanks to Dirkie (her 50th International goal) and Pietie Coetzee (her 277th International goal), the Aussies fought back to tie the game at 3-3 in an absolutely thrilling game. Investec South Africa would not miss out though as game two produced one of the finest defensive displays in recent hockey history. But it was the inspirational leadership of Marsha Cox that set up the victory sealed by the incredible Pietie Coetzee. With the series tight, the final game saw Australia bring about a ruthless efficiency and led Investec South Africa by 3, Shelley Russel got the consolation goal before the Aussies got one more. The series ended tie at 1-1, but more importantly it showed that 11th ranked South Africa are closing the gap on the stronger nations.
After the euphoria of the Aussie tour, there was always a risk that complacency could set in for the 6 match series against Belgium. But if you look at the first game of the series, you will know that is not what happened. South Africa were devastating in attack and clinched the opening game 6-0 through Kathleen Taylor, Sulette Damons (2), Ilse Davids and Celia Evans (2). Belgium fought back with a classy 2-0 win in the second test and the series headed towards a titanic tactical challenge. The third was a classic 2-2 draw with Sulette Damons equalising first before Kathleen Taylor nailed the second equaliser in the 66th minute to ensure the series stayed level. Match four of the series was a memorable match that left few in doubt over the strength of Investec SA Hockey. A first half blitz inspired by Pietie Coetzee, Lisa Deetlefs and Bernie Coston was followed up by a second half consolidation by Celia Evans to kill the game off. In the fifth test Pietie Coetzee scored her 279th goal for SA Hockey, before Belgium leveled the game late on to leave the Belgians with a chance of salvaging a tie in the series. So it all went down to the final match and Investec South Africa made sure of the series by leading at half time 2-1 through Kathleen Taylor and Marsha Cox. South Africa were pegged back to 2-2 but hold onto the result to win the series 2-1.
After 11 matches in Cape Town, the Investec SA Hockey side ventured up north to Tshwane University of Technology to take on Scotland, the world no. 16, in a five match series. What the five matches produced, were five outstanding victories for the national ladies. The first game was a classic with SA emerging victorious 5-3, goals by Ilse Davids, Candice Manuel, Celia Evans and Lilian du Plessis (2). The remainder of the series remained as competitive and quick paced with SA wining all four games. The scores were 4-2 (Kelly Madsen, Lilian du Plessis (2) and Sulette Damons), 4-0 (Celia Evans (2), Toni Marks & Kathleen Taylor), 5-0 (Lilian du Plessis (2), Kathleen Taylor (2) & Jade Mayne) and 4-1 (Quanita Bobbs, Celia Evans & Solette Damons (2)). The team will be proud of the whitewash and definitely the amount of new caps in the season.
A Summer of 16 matches saw the Investec SA Hockey team win 8, draw four and only lose four games. In the process they scored 43 goals and conceded 30. Of course the victories will be highlights but there were a few milestones reached too:
- Kelly Madsen played her 100th game
- Dirkie Chamberlain scored her 50th goal
- Tarryn Bright played her 250th game
- Shelley Russell played her 200th game
- Kathleen Taylor played her 200th game
- Dirkie Chamberlain played her 150th game
- Ilse Davids played her 100th game
With 98 days to go the FIH World Cup in Holland, the ladies will use all the support as that extra motivation to do the country proud.