A hat-trick from Nicola Evans helped Ireland claim a convincing 4-1 victory over South Africa in the opening match of pool D at the Women’s Hockey World League in Valencia on Wednesday. The Irish took the lead in the fifth minute through Evans who rounded the keeper to fire in the opener before Kelly Madsen leveled matters for the South Africans minutes later. Evans put the Irish back in front after a well worked penalty corner which deflected in after 18 minutes as the Irish led 2-1 at half-time in a high tempo half.
The women in green and gold won their first penalty corner in the 32nd minute after some good attacking play, however the Irish were bold in their defending as they charged down two shots to keep their lead intact. Both sides created scoring chances but couldn’t convert as the score remained unchanged. The Irish looked the likeliest to score as the game wore on and they did just that as Evans touched in Chloe Watkins’ cross in the 50th minute to complete her hat-trick and give her team a 3-1 lead.
Nicola Daly put the icing on the cake for the women in green and white as she produced a brilliant solo run and strike to score Ireland’s fourth as they ran out comfortable 4-1 winners, while keeping their hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics well intact.
Photo credit: Carl Fourie