Johannesburg - After leading 1-0 at half-time, the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team went down 3-1 to world champions Argentina in the Four Nations tournament final in Buenos Aires, Argentina, late Sunday night.
South Africa turned the ball over in the second minute after a defensive lapse by Argentina, with North West’s Celia Evans keeping her head to set up 2004 Olympian Liesel Dorothy of Eastern Province.
Dorothy exhibited a neat touch to put the underdogs 1-0 up amid stunned silence from the incessantly raucous crowd.
Superb defensive work mixed with second half errors saw goals by Argentine captain Noel Barrionuevo, Maria Fernandez and Carla Dupuy clinch the gold medal for the home side.
After South Africa’s early success, Free State’s Lesle-Ann George made a brilliant tackle to deny the world champions. Daniela Sruoga hit the post as the home team began weaving their trademark patterns across the length and breadth of the field.
However, gutsy defence and quality goalkeeping from Northern Blues' Sanani Mangisa saw the visitors reach half-time 1-0 ahead.
A misunderstanding in the South African defence early in the second half saw to Argentine skipper Noel Barrioneuvo scoring from a penalty corner to level proceedings at 1-1.
Maria Fernandez made an unchallenged run nine minutes after the break to put the home side ahead for the first time after more indecision in the South African ranks.
South Africa finally stole away and Western Province’s Jade Mayne did well to win her side’s first penalty corner but her provincial skipper Kate Woods' shot was blocked.
A cross from WP forward Kathleen Taylor just evaded Northern Blues striker Dirkie Chamberlains’ stick in the nine-yard box before Mangisa made a great save at point-blank range at the other end.
Carla Dupuy made it 3-1 after a goalmouth scramble, while SA were desperately unlucky at the other end after great work by Dorothy culminated in the ball rolling within a metre of the goal line.
South Africa had lost to Argentina 4-1 in the round robin stage on Thursday night; an outcome head coach Giles Bonnet said was not a fair reflection considering how often South Africa entered the strike zone.
An exciting bronze medal match saw India outlast Ireland 4-2 in a penalty shootout after the scores were locked 1-1 after added time.