Carlisle leads SA to hockey whitewash

Veteran defender Lindsey Carlisle celebrated her 200th Test cap with a neat goal that ultimately proved the difference as the Spar South African women beat Canada 1-0 in the fourth and final Test at the Tshwane University of Technology on Friday night.

The result wrapped up a series whitewash after South Africa won the first three Tests of the series 1-0, 2-0 and 2-1 respectively.

The level of hockey produced by South Africa through the week was not exceptional, but the four wins extend to eight the team’s unbeaten streak, which augurs well for confidence a little more than three months away from the Commonwealth Games.

Carlisle put her team ahead as early as the fourth minute with a deft touch past Canadian goalkeeper Azelia Liu from Kate Hector’s initial strike, much to the delight of the appreciative crowd.

While the 200 games include 14 Tests for Zimbabwe, Carlisle’s popularity with the Pretoria crowd was evident, with several banners proclaiming her special achievement.

Both teams created several chances before the break, with patches of enterprising play, but nothing came of it as the home team went into the interval a goal ahead.

South Africa’s goalkeeper Caroline Jack had a fine opening 35 minutes, pulling off several spectacular saves, but on one occasion had her left upright to thank for keeping a first-half clean sheet.

Hector was also in good form, repelling numerous Canadian raids with cool composure in the middle of defence and ensuring South Africa the lead at half-time.

The second stanza saw South Africa come out determined to increase the lead, but a combination of poor finishing and Liu in the Canadian goal meant they failed to find the breakthrough.

In the end, though, the win was a fitting outcome for South Africa’s long-serving captain, but much work lies ahead if the team hope to push for a medal in Australia next year.

South Africa striker Candice Forword also celebrated a milestone in the match, turning out for the 50th time for her country on the night.—Sapa