The final day of the 2018 Croatian Indoor Cup offered the tantalising prospect of knock out hockey, something that has caused immense excitement in various tournaments around the globe over the last 12 months. The nerves for SPAR South Africa would be there as they know that more than anyone else about the possibilities of the winner takes all one-off games.
Semi-Final – SPAR South Africa vs. Slovenia
Slovenia welcomed back their first choice keeper, Aleksandra Dervaric, and it was quickly evident that she would be in for a busy morning. To her credit, she was more than up to the task and made save after save to keep the South Africans at arm’s length. In fact, in the opening 15 minutes, only Kara Botes and Heather McEwan managed to breach her goal after finding an inspired keeper. SPAR South Africa was soon rewarded for their persistence, however, as Celia Evans, Kara Botes and Heather McEwan all scored before the break to give it a little gloss on the scoreboard!
The second half saw the tides turn as wave after wave of South African attack produced goals a galore. Cindy Hack scored back-to-back goals, a trademark for SPAR South Africa in this series, and quickly saw the lethal Kara Botes make it 8 from a penalty corner. Celia Evans and then the Hack, Botes duo each got further goals to make it 11-0.
The Slovenians, who had earlier in the tournament secured an outstanding victory against Slovakia, refused to give up and although they conceded two more goals to Tegan Fourie and Celia Evans, they refused to quit playing and their development will be speedier for experiences of this tournament.
SPAR South Africa would now contest the final against the hosts Croatia who earlier saw off Slovakia in an exciting 8-2 result.
Final – SPAR South Africa vs. Croatia
The final was expected to be a hotly tested match with Croatia saving their best for the final game in front of their home crowd. But it was the SPAR South Africa ladies that seemed more up for the fight, maybe spurred on by the fact that family was able to watch a live streamed game on Facebook.
Croatia throughout the tournament had made fast starts to the matches and anticipating this, SPAR South Africa took the game to their hosts from the opening whistle. Celia Evans took the lead for SA in the fourth minute and lethal short corner queen Kara Botes fired in a second just 60 seconds later.
Croatia was looking for an olive leaf of opportunity, but would not find South Africa in a charitable mood. Instead by half-time, the score was 4-0 through Kelly Reed and Heather McEwan.
The second half followed a similar pattern as SPAR South Africa bossed possession and then would sporadically create chances. The chances were converted fairly regularly as Kara Botes, Cindy Hack and Kelly Reed scored before Kara Botes fired in her hat-trick goal to make it 8-0. Fittingly SPAR South Africa’s captain scored the final goal for SA as they took a 9-0 lead with 7 minutes left.
To the delight of the home crowd, Croatia was able to score a consolation goal through Una Litvic, but they knew they had been second best in every single facet of the game and SPAR South Africa were the worthy and unquestionable winners.
Best Player – Cindy Hack (SPAR South Africa)
Top Goalscorer – Kara Botes (SPAR South Africa)
Best Goalkeeper – Iva Zlomisilic (Croatia)