|June 23rd, 2011|
|13||Quarterfinal||10:00am||RSA - ESP||2 - 3 (1 - 1) AET||Final|
Spain and South
Africa learned just how important a strong penalty corner can be in today’s Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge 1 Quarter Final. Thanks to three-penalty corner goals, fourth-ranked Spain downed top-ranked South Africa with a 3-2 overtime win. Spain will now move onto to the Semi-Finals, while South Africa moves to the placement round.
It is the first major upset that saw a top-seeded preliminary round team fall in the Quarter Finals under the new FIH Champions Challenge format that sees the lowest-seeded team play the top-seeded teams in a cross-over game. The #2 and #3 seeded teams meet in the other two Quarter Final games.
Spain’s Pilar Snachez put in the game winner in the waning moments of overtime, with just over a minute left on the clock when she powered home the game-winning goal on a penalty corner.
The tally marked the end of a frustrating game for the South Africans, who essentially dominated the match end-to-end but could not find the answer to the Spanish defense. In the extra time alone, South Africa had at least four solid scoring chances, but were stymied by Spain. Meanwhile, Spain had virtually no open field chances, but took full advantage of their penalty corners.
South Africa dominated the first-half action and was rewarded when Sulette Damons put in the 1-0 goal in the 26th minute at near point-blank range. Spain answered with the tying goal coming on its first shot of the game when Raquel Heurtas struck three minutes before the break on a penalty corner.
Spain took a 2-1 lead in the second half when Barbara Malda put in the second penalty corner of the game. It looked like the regulation win might stand until world-record goal scorer Pietie Coetzee struck with a South African penalty corner tally in the last two minutes of regulation to even the game at two and send it into extra time.
South Africa dominated the extra time action, but visibly tensed when the whistle was blown for a penalty corner with two minutes left. Sure enough, Spain’s penalty corner was successful, leading to a big Spanish celebration, while South Africa stood shell shocked.