The weather had warmed up slightly in Zagreb as the 2018 Croatian Cup got underway at the Zelina Sports Hall. It was probably an early indication that things were about to heat up on the court and it didn’t take long for that to be the case.
Slovakia vs. SPAR South Africa
The SPAR South Africa ladies started the match on fire and were awarded for that dominant display up front as Kelly Reed won two penalty corners and Kara Botes finished off the second to give an early lead. It was a statement of intent and a statement that was duly backed up over the remainder of the first half.
The SPAR South Africa ladies were showing their experience and Kelly Reed, Cindy Hack, Kara Botes and in particular Celia Evans were combining regularly with devastating impact. SPAR South Africa led 6-0 at halftime with keeper Nicole la Fleur only having to make one save the whole half. Instead, all the action was happening in the Slovakian half, in the first ever test between these two nations. Each of Kara Botes, Kelly Reed, and Cindy Hack had earned themselves a brace.
The second half saw a slight improvement in the defensive play from the Slovakians and they managed to pull a goal back when a shot on target was blocked with a foot to award the Slovakians a Penalty stroke that was well converted although Greyvenstein did get a touch to it. That, however, just saw the South Africans raise their game further. Some of the combination play on view was simply superb and, with a little more finesse the score could have been higher than the Indian Cricket team’s against the Protea’s today!
Cindy Hack finished off her hat-trick and netted another after great teamwork, while Kelly Reed also got a hat-trick. The other goal was scored by Heather McEwan after a fine assist from the lively Celia Evans. And that took the game to a 10-1 finish and a successful start for the SPAR South Africa side.
“Today we really brought it on the court. There were times today when I almost wanted to just step back and watch because our teamwork in offensive play was fantastic. Everyone played for the team and there were very few errors. It’s also rewarding that in games like that it’s easy for the level to drop off, but the fact that we only gave away one PC in the whole game shows that we were on our game from first to the last whistle!” shared Celia Evans after the opening victory.
SPAR South Africa 9-0 Croatia League Select
SPAR South Africa’s second game of the night was an exhibition game against the Croatian “League Select” side, a group of up and coming players all aged around 18. The game itself is not an official test match (much like a Barbarians Rugby game) and does not form part of the points table for the Croatian Cup.
SPAR South Africa was workmanlike and hat-tricks from Kelly Reed and Tegan Fourie inspired a complete 9-0 victory. (Cindy Hack, Celia Evans and Jess O’Connor got the other three)
Croatia Cup 2018 – Day 1 Results
South Africa 10 – 1 Slovakia
Slovenia 5 – 3 Slovakia
Croatia 9 - 1 Slovenia