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London – South Africa's women's hockey coach Giles Bonnet says the team finally found their rhythm at the London Olympics after they defeated the United States 7-0 on Monday.
The South Africans were clinical in their final pool B match, scoring four goals in the first half and three in the second.
“We went into the game under a lot of pressure and managed to make a lot of turnovers, which we were able to maintain throughout the game,” Bonnet said.
“We also turned chances into goals which we haven't been able to do in the previous games.
“So, from our perspective as a team, things worked for us and we had a lot of things flowing for us.”
The women next play Japan in a play-off for ninth and 10th place on Wednesday and could finish their campaign as their most successful Olympics yet, if they manage a second victory at the Games.
It was the team's first victory at the Games after suffering four consecutive defeats against Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Germany.
South Africa's captain Marsha Marescia said everything seemed to gel for them on Monday.
“The focus changed from just having a good performance to actually pushing for a result and I think that definitely changed the way we prepared as individuals,” Marescia said.
“As individuals, we took a lot more accountability for our performance.
“We always had this belief that once we broke the ice against the opposition, it would flow and the momentum would keep going.”
She said while they created scoring opportunities in the games against Germany (2-0) and Australia (1-0), they could not convert them.
This time around they made the best of their scoring opportunities and were able to get into the circle as they received 10 penalty corners with four goals resulting from them.
“We were fortunate to do it (score) in the 14th minute of the game and just kept going at it,” she said.
“When there is a good feeling in the field, it is easy to keep the energy levels high and to keep everybody motivated.”
Marescia said the team struggled to come to grips with the pressure when the opposition scored against them early on in the matches.
“In previous games, as the clock ticked away and you were not converting your chances, you tended to feel the pressure more,” Marescia said.
“Instead of pulling together as a unit and keeping the energy levels up, it was hard to keep everybody motivated in those times.
“We also focused on having a good performance and we walked off the field frustrated because we knew we had good performances but we weren't getting the results.” – Sapa