|June 21st, 2011|
|10||Pool A||1:30pm||USA - RSA||5 - 5 (2 - 3)||Final|
South Africa takes first place in Group A
It was a banner day for South Africa at the Ireland Electric Champions Challenge 1. The team’s 5-5 tie against the USA secured first place in the Group A preliminary round and along the way, Pietee Coetzee broke the world record for goals scored.
Were it not for Coetzee’s heroics, it might have been an entirely different outcome for the South Africans, who struggled to stop the newly-energized American offense. Coetzee scored all three of South Africa’s first-half goals and added her fourth in the second-half to tie the game at five. The four-goal performance brings Coetzee’s total goal tally to an amazing 222.
The U.S. got on the board early into action, taking the 1-0 lead just three minutes into the game. The goal quickly woke up South Africa, and namely Coetzee, who responded with three straight goals, including the world record-setting marker that came in the 23rd minute. The U.S. cut the celebration short when they made it a one-goal game on a penalty corner in the last minute of the half
The Americans continued to surge in the second half. South Africa quickly extended its lead to 4-2 on a penalty corner four minutes after the break, but it would be the only action from the South African offense for most of the half as the Americans dominated the pitch for most of the 35 minutes.
Paige Salenski put in her second goal of the game to kick-off the comeback and Katie O’Donnell put in another two markers to give the U.S. a 5-4 lead. But there to save the day for South Africa was none other than Coetzee, who put in the 5-5 goal with three minutes left to save the tie and give her team pole position heading into Thursday’s cross-over games.
Despite today’s strong performance, the Americans still finish Group A in fourth place, earning only the one point from today’s tie. Yet the momentum from the strong performance could help the U.S. in the critical cross-over round on Thursday. Meanwhile South Africa will await the outcome of this evening’s games to see who its Thursday opponent will be – they will face the fourth-seeded team from Group B.
Group A – Final Standings:
South Africa – 5 points
Scotland – 5 points
Japan – 4 points
United States – 1 point