Glasgow Green – The Investec South Africa women's hockey team were edged 2-1 by Ireland after the scores were locked 1-1 at half-time in the semi-finals of the Champions Challenge at Glasgow Green in Scotland Saturday.
There was drama in the 14th minute when USA umpire Maggie Giddens disallowed what action replays suggested was a great goal by Sulette Damons from just inside the strike zone, while SA had reason to feel aggrieved that two extra penalty corner decisions did not go their way either.
SA had opened the scoring in the ninth minute when striker Celia Evans smashed her shot into the backboard past goalkeeper Emma Gray after good build-up play by Kathleen Taylor and captain Marsh Cox.
Two minutes (16th) after Damons' disappointment, Ireland hit back when a variation right of the castle from their first and only penalty corner saw captain Megan Frazer's well-struck shot ricochet off goalkeeper Anelle van Deventer's pads into the roof of the net.
In the second half Van Deventer made two fine saves from Chloe Watkins and Emma Smyth but the winner came in the 46th minute when Katie Mullan stole along the right-hand baseline with little room in which to manoeuvre and Nicola Evans took advantage to score from close.
SA fought valiantly for the equaliser, with three more penalty corners to add to the pair in the first half. The first of which, in the 58th minute, led to a penalty stroke after Lisa Deetlef's slap shot had hit a defender's foot near the goalline, but Tarryn Bright's flick was saved by Gray to her right.
Gray made a number of good saves in the second half, including from Damons, while an Evans reverse-stick rocket with eight minutes left cannoned into the crossbar and stayed out. But it was not to be South Africa's day and the only team of eight that had yet to be beaten were left to contemplate Sunday's bronze medal medal match.
SA head coach Giles Bonnet's summation was precise: "It you want to win at this level, you must score, it's as simple as that. Ireland had very few chances, we had enough chances, penalty corners, a penalty stroke. We have had a good tournament, I am not unhappy with the way we are playing, our game is good, but we must make the goals, we must make the chances, that's it."
The second semi-final between the USA and Spain was due to start at 5.15pm.
SA will meet the losers at 4.30pm SA time Sunday for the bronze medal. The final is at 6.45pm SA time Sunday.