Stellenbosch, South Africa – Germany have taken a one-nil lead in the three test women's series against South Africa after registering a 4-1 win in Stellenbosch on Thursday night.
After the postponement of the test on Wednesday night due to a raging fire that had enveloped the surrounding Stellenbosch mountains neither side set the field alight in this first encounter but it was the South Africans that almost provided the first spark in the opening minutes. Striker, Kathleen Taylor collected a delightful overhead just outside the German circle but her strike flashed across the opponents’ goalmouth.
The Germans showed why they are ranked third in the world and immediately counter attacked down the left flank with Jennifer Plass scrambling in the opening goal. The hosts did then force the first penalty corner of the match but again were nearly caught on the counter when the visitors speedily swept up field only to be denied by the post. The South Africans then conceded a soft goal in the 33rd minute after failing to pick up Lea Loitsch in the circle who deflected in from a free hit.
The hosts looked a far more cohesive and attacking unit in the second half but the loss of Lisa Deetleefs and Vidette Ryan to injury disrupted the home side's defense pattern. Germany took advantage with two more field goals in the 41st and 47th minutes with Anke Kuhn and Plass finding the net.
South Africa's breakthrough eventually came in the 53rd minute after being awarded their fourth penalty corner of the half. Kate Hector's magnificent drag flick bulged the back of the Germans net for a more respectable 4-1 score line.
Both coaches were philosophical about their teams’ performance with Germany's coach Michi Behrmann obviously the more satisfied. 'We've improved our play in the circle a lot and our defence has improved but I am not satisfied with our penalty corners and we had too many unforced errors.'
SA coach Jenny King, while not making excuses, bemoaned the loss of Deetleefs and Ryan. 'When you lose two experienced defenders it is very disruptive. But generally our defending was off the pace and our one on one defense was poor.
'But it's very difficult defending against some of the top strikers in the world. I mean take Natascha Keller for instance. She has over 300 caps and her receiving and fakes and dummies are world class', concluded King.
The second test of the series will be played on Friday night (19:00) with the final match on Saturday afternoon (15:00).
South Africa – Germany 1-4
South Africa: Kate Hector
Germany: Jennifer Plass(2), Lea Loitsch, Anke Kuhn
Source: BLD / South African Hockey Association