The Argentina Leonas redeemed themselves from their loss to the Netherlands a day earlier. Three goals in the third quarter gave the home team the 3-0 victory over the Great Britain women to claim the top of the FIH Pro League leader board, though early in the season.

Two goals in the opening four minutes of the game were all that could get past the outstanding keeping of Oliver Payne, in goal for Great Britain, and Tomas Santiago, for Argentina. Maico Casella’s drag flick and a sliding finish from Jack Waller were all that stood after 60 minutes. Payne and Santiago were in fine form in the shootout but GB eventually took the bonus point after a 2-1 result and a expert finish from James Albery.

Argentina vs Great Britain (women & men) – Santiago del Estero, Argentina

On the heels of a flat performance a day earlier, Argentina had a thrilling third quarter full with three goals to put away Great Britain 3-0. The opening half was balanced and moderate tempo with very few scoring opportunities. Sophie Hamilton had a blast go well-wide of the net, while in the other end Argentina’s Agustina Gorzelany missed a penalty stroke wide.

All the action was saved for the start of the third quarter. Redeeming herself, Gorzelany split Maddie Hinch and her post player in the 31st minute to lift the Leonas 1-0. Great Britain seemed to sit back and not apply pressure to some waves of Argentine rushes and a dish to Maria Granatto was expertly flipped over a sliding Hinch to double the lead just minutes later.

Some sloppy clearing left a second-chance fall for Maria Campoy in the 39th minute. Campoy spun on to her back foot and blasted the ball inside Hinch’s near post to triple the lead by the end of the third quarter. Argentina continued to open up spaces through the GB midfield and the tempo continued that way until the 60 minutes was up.

Captain and player of the match Rocio Sanchez said after the 3-0 win: “I think we wanted to win the game and wanted to play well. We didn’t start on the right foot yesterday against Holland so we wanted a good match today and we did that.”

“I felt the first half was pretty good,” said GB’s Giselle Ansley. “We competed pretty well and went out there and played some attacking hockey. We knew we had to improve our press in the second half but fundamentally we just fell apart. The second half was not what we wanted and we are pretty disappointed.”  

The men’s sides started at high tempo and finished in the same vein. After a 1-1 tie, Great Britain took the bonus point, 2-1, in the shootout. Argentina got on the board in just the third minute of play. Maico Casella, as he did a night previous, released a fabulous drag flick to give Argentina the lead. It was short-lived though as Jack Waller’s cheeky sweep on the rush beat Santiago for a fabulous tying goal. Waller’s opportunity was credit to a brilliant move and feed from Stuart Rushmere. GB then had a second goal, shot by Phil Roper, overturned in the second quarter to leave it tied 1-1 at the break.

Gritty defence from Waller and Jacob Draper made it tough work for Argentina in the GB circle. Oliver Payne’s leadership between the posts also helped keep heads focused and calm. Tomas Santiago also had busy moments contending with the quick hands of Roper, Rushmere and Will Calnan. Thomas Sorsby then earned Great Britain a penalty corner off the foot of Thomas Habif late in the third but Sam Ward’s flick was blocked by the charging stick of Habif.

Creativity continued from Zachary Wallace as he made tough work for Santiago in the final quarter. Chances continued falling for GB as a deflection outside of the circle looked destined to go off the endline so Santiago stepped over the ball but it hit the post and Ward touched it just wide of the goal. Martin Ferreiro had one last blast to force a save from Payne but time was on neither team’s side to send the game to a shootout.

The shootout featured superb goalkeeping from Santiago and Payne but ultimately ended in sudden death thanks to a James Albery blast. GB takes the bonus point with a 2-1 shootout victory.

Zachary Wallace, player of the match, said after the game: “I don’t think it was our best quarter in the first half but we playing Argentina in front of a home crowd in Argentina is always tough. We wanted to keep the ball for long periods, move it around and tire them out. We didn’t do that well in the first half but we were better in the second. We will need to look at winning the ball more and earning some more corners and of course Payne was so, so good.”

Maico Casella added for Argentina: “I think we will have to improve our circle penetrations. We had a lot but couldn’t’ score as much as we wanted and we need to get more penalty corners.”

Pro League action continues tomorrow, 16 December, as the Netherlands play Great Britain for both the men’s and women’s match ups.

FIH Pro League – 15 December 2022

Santiago del Estero, Argentina (ARG)

Result: Women’s Match 9
Argentina 3, Great Britain 0
Player of the Game: Rocio Sanchez (ARG)
Umpires: Ayanna McClean (TTO), Federico Garcia (URU), Maggie Giddens (USA-reserve), Laurine Delforge (BEL-video)

Result: Men’s Match 15
Argentina 1, Great Britain 1 (1-2 Shootout)
Player of the Match: Zachary Wallace (GBR)
Umpires: Maggie Giddens (USA), Sean Rapaport (RSA)< Ayanna McClean (TTO-reserve), Federico Garcia (URU-video)


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