Hobart: Action continued from Hobart in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2022/23 as Hockeyroos took on USA in the women’s competition, followed by the Kookaburras facing Spain in the rematch of the men’s world cup quarterfinals. After a goalless draw in regulation time, USA were inspired by the heroics of Kelsey Bing and won the bonus point in the shoot-outs. In the men’s match, Spain took the lead in the first quarter and Australia were never able to draw level despite scoring twice in the game as the Red Sticks won the game 4-2.
Women’s – Australia vs USA 0-0 (SO: 1-3)
Australia were dominant in the first quarter, starting off by winning a penalty corner inside 30 seconds of the match. But for all their dominance, they could not get the opening goal, with USA showcasing their improved defence once again, not allowing the hosts any room to take good quality shots inside the USA circle. The pattern of the game held in the second quarter, as Australia continued to overload the USA circle, but twice they were denied from the penalty corners, as first it was Wolgemuth deflecting a flick on the line as a post defender, then it was Bing’s turn to acrobatically push a drag flick wide to her right. USA started to create chances in the final minutes leading up to the break, but shots by Caarls and Sessa were well saved by Hockeyroos keeper Aleisha Powers as the teams finished the half on 0-0.
With the sun beating down, energy levels seemed lower in the second half as USA continued to frustrate Australia in deep defence. Sloppiness in the final third for Australia also meant they failed to properly test Kelsey Bing in the American goal in the third quarter. The fourth quarter finally broke the game open as both sides upped the intensity to look for a goal which could win them the match. While attacking intent was clear from both sides, chances were still few and far between. Australia were on the receiving end of two fantastic opportunities in the final minutes. The first fell to Madison Brooks as confusion between two USA defenders allowed her to intercept the ball outside the circle and break in, but right before she was about to shoot, Hammel put in a brilliant tackle from the back to snatch the ball away. With 90 seconds left, Australia won a penalty corner but once again Bing watched the ball all the way and saved diving to her left, sending the game to a shoot-out.
USA managed to win the shoot-out and the bonus point thanks to heroics of Kelsey Bing once again, as she saved three of the first four attempts by the Hockeyroos, and USA attackers scored 3 of their 5 attempts to earn 2 big points against the higher ranked hosts Australia.
Kelsey Bing was awarded player of the match and said: “We have been developing and working hard for a long time so getting these wins in the shoot-outs really means a lot. We were playing a bit reserved in the first half but that was not the way to compete against an attacking Australian team, so we came out and played a bit more in the second half and managed to get a result.”
Men’s – Australia vs Spain 2-4
Spain survived early pressure from Australia and managed to open the scoring in the 11th minute from a penalty corner. The injection on the corner bobbled up off Ignacio Rodriguez’s stick, but he showed great composure to bring it back down and send a slap hit towards the goal which was going wide to the left but was deflected into the goal by Marc Reyne to give the visitors the lead. The second quarter followed the same pattern as Spain survived a lot of threat on their own goal and capitalised when they got an opportunity to counter. A long corner from the left was played to the right and Alonso’s pass found Bonastre on the right baseline and his pass across the face of the goal found Reyne who had the simple task of prodding the ball into the goal and did so with aplomb. Australia pulled a goal back a couple of minutes later when Beltz’s pass into the Spanish circle was not trapped properly by Alonso and the ball fell to Govers on the far post and he scored with ease. Spain restored their 2-goal lead before half-time with Basterra’s strong tomahawk shot from the left beating Durst in the Australian goal.
Australia crucially scored the next goal of the game from a penalty corner midway through the third quarter, with the initial save by Calzado leading the ball to loop up and falling to Tom Craig on the left post, his volley deflected of a Spanish stick and fell to Craig Marias who picked his spot and scored Australia’s second goal. Australia’s search for an equaliser in the final quarter faced a tougher challenge as Lachlan Sharp received a yellow card, leaving Australia with a player less in the final 4 minutes of the game. Australia substituted their keeper for an outfield player, bringing them back to 10 outfield players, but Spain won a penalty corner for a push by Dawson on Reyne in the circle and Miralles scored with a straight low flick with no goalkeeper in the Kookaburras’ goal, sealing an impressive win for the Red Sticks.
Marc Reyne was awarded player of the match and said: “We came here a week early to prepare because we know Australia are a tough team, but we know we can beat anyone. Hockey now is all about making sure your defence is tight and if you defend well you will get your chances on the other end and we took our chances today.”
FIH Pro League – 1 March 2023
Tasmania Hockey Center, Hobart (AUS)
Result: Women’s Match 26
Australia 0-0 USA (SO: 1-3)
Player of the Game: Kelsey Bing (USA)
Umpires: Cookie Tan (SGP), Rachel Williams (ENG), Javed Sheikh (IND-video)
Result: Men’s Match 20
Australia 2-4 Spain
Player of the Game: Marc Reyne (ESP)
Umpires: Raghu Prasad (IND), Javed Sheikh (IND), Cookie Tan (SGP-video)
–FIH report and Photo