The New Zealand men earned the first points of their season with the bonus point coming in a shootout after a 1-1 draw with Spain. Dominic Dixon made some big stops to deny all Spain attempts in the shootouts and,ultimately, secure the bonus point. Over in Mendoza, the Leonas blasted past the German women, 4-2, in front of packed stands thanks to two goals from Maria Jose Granatto. The German men picked up two more points with a 4-3 shootout victory over Argentina following a 2-2 regulation score. Christopher Ruhr provided the heroics — scoring once in the game and providing a goal and two penalty stroke finishes in the shootouts.

Spain v New Zealand (men) – Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneswar (IND)

New Zealand earned their first points of the season as they beat Spain 1-0 in shootout after full-time score was leveled at 1-1. It was an evenly contested match with both teams testing the world-class goalkeeping opposite ends. Neither keeper would break the end of the third quarter. New Zealand custodians Dominic Dixon and George Enersen were both superb in their goal as they saved many attempts made by the Spanish forwards. However, Joaquin Menini opened the scoring for Spain in the 47th minute with a rocket of a finish.

While it all looked done and dusted for Spain, a mistake from the Spanish defender inside their circle in the 60th minute proved to be a blunder as umpire Rawi Anbananthan signaled for a penalty stroke.

Kane Russell didn’t make any mistake from the spot to keep his team in it. The 1-1 draw sent the teams to a shootout for the bonus point and it was here that the goalkeeping heroics of Dixon came alive. Dixon denied all five Spanish shots on his goal, while Sean Findlay was the lone Black Sticks player to tally.

“We had a very short preparation coming into this tournament as many of us were playing in different tournaments abroad,” said the player of the match, Simon Child, who makes his return to the Black Sticks after a six-year hiatus due to a hip injury. “Hence, it took a little time for us to get settled. It has been a very steep yet positive learning curve for the entire team. We have a very little time left till we come back here again for the World Cup. We will work hard on our mistakes and perform better in the next tournaments.

Spain captain Alvaro Iglesias said that it was an extremely tough game. “We got many penalty corners but couldn’t convert them. We as a team need to adjust to different playing conditions and different atmospheres. We played some silly balls which were intercepted by New Zealand and these small mistakes cost us the match.”

Argentina v Germany (women & men) – Estadio Mendocino de Hockey, Mendoza (ARG)

The Leonas never shy away from an opportunity to perform in front of a home crowd and they did not disappoint. Two goals from Maria Jose Granatto fed the already vivacious crowd and while Germany didn’t go away quietly, the Argentina women put on a scoring masterclass.

The Leonas got the go-ahead in the opening minute as Granatto’s one-timed blast after a fortunate defensive deflection left Germany keeper Nathalie Kubalski stunned. Minutes later, Germany found their equalizer as Jette Fleschütz fed a streaking Nike Lorenz. The captain sliced through the Argentine circle and unleashed a back-hand shot to level the game 1-1.

A scoreless second quarter included a great stick save from Kubalski to deny Valentina Costa a penalty corner flick. In the other end it was Argentine keeper Cristina Cosentino denying a one-two play between Selin Oruz and Pia Maertens that was threatening.

It was an electric third quarter as a breakdown penalty corner was calmly repurposed and Jankunas fed Granatto for the 2-1 Leonas lead in the 33rd minute. Charlotte Stapenhorst was able to provide a response for Germany two minutes later. Lena Micheel’s deflection set up the play and the initial shot popped up high but Stapenhorst calmly redirected the ball over-head to bring Germany level, 2-2. Sofia Toccalino made it 3-2 on a Leonas penalty corner as her sweep took a fortunate bounce off the streaking Kira Horn to beat Kubalski low and put Argentina back in front.

Amelie Wortmann’s five minutes in the sin bin left Germany in a tough position at the end of the fourth. Eugenia Trinchinetti made good on a penalty corner deflection at the far post to make it 4-2 for Argentina in the 55th minute. The Leonas had a wave of penalty corners following. An unusual break with two minutes to go came when umpire Catalina Montesino had a defensive face mask thrown her way and it forced reserve Bruce Bale to step in. Despite being back to full strength Die Danas could not overcome the two-goal deficit and suffered their second loss in as many nights.

Player of the match and goal scorer Trinchinetti said after the game: “I think that we had a really good game. We didn’t start with our best performance but in the third and fourth quarter we showed the best version of ourselves. We gave everything for this shirt and our country and we are a really excellent team and we showed that on the pitch.”

On the men’s side, a 2-2 regulation score pushed the game to an entertaining shootout that landed 4-3 in favour of the visiting Germans.

Germany opened the scoring in the eighth minute on back-to-back penalty corner attempts. Gonzalo Peillat had his first flick picked off the line by the steady hands of Argentina’s Facundo Zarate, but the second attempt split Zarate and Tomas Santiago to give Germany the 1-0 lead. Argentina responded in the same quarter as Lucas Toscani’s drag flick beat Jean-Paul Danneberg, in goal for Germany, to level the score 1-1.

It was a fast-paced second quarter but neither team could get on the board. The deadlock was broken in the 37th minute. Christopher Ruhr ran back on the field after serving a yellow card suspension and snuck in behind the Argentine defence to deflect a brilliant reverse-stick ball into the circle from Linus Muller to give Germany the 2-1 lead.

A breakdown tackle in the 41st minute by Niklas Bosserhoff left Germany down, setting the stage for what was to come. Matias Rey finished off a penalty corner rebound that rang the post to level the game in the 47th. Both teams had chances with an extra player as Germany’s Mats Grambusch and Argentina’s Ignacio Nepote each sat for five-minute suspensions in the final quarter. Germany had all the possession but with no execution the game headed to a shootout.

Nicolas Keenan, Maico Casella and Lucas Toscani scored the first three for Argentina, while Niklas Wellen and Ruhr each scored on their attempts for Germany. Ruhr was then called to secure two penalty strokes after Martin Zwicker and Thies Prinz were both tripped up by keeper Nehuen Hernando on their attempts. Germany took the bonus point with the 4-3 result.

 “We had a very difficult game tonight,” said Niklas Bosserhoff, named Player of the Match. “We had a big crowd against us and we felt it on the pitch. We were lucky to get the draw in the end and win the shootout so that’s a big mental strength for us. We want to continue that in the next games.”

Argentina’s Maico Casella said after the match: “I think it was a good game for us. I think we played pretty well and defended well. I think the shootouts we are still not good enough to win but we need to keep on training that. For the first game though, it was pretty good for us.”

FIH Pro League action continues 6 November in Bhubaneswar as India will host Spain men and back in Mendoza the Argentina men and women will host Belgium.

FIH Pro League – 5 November 2022

Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneswar (IND)

Result: Men’s Match 6
Spain 1, New Zealand 1 (0-1 Shootout)
Player of the Match:  Simon Child (NZL)
Umpires: Ben Goentgen (GER), Rawi Anbananthan (MAS), Michiel Otten (NED-reserve), Coen van Bunge (NED-video)

Estadio Mendocino de Hockey, Mendoza (ARG)

Result: Women’s Match 2
Argentina 4 , Germany 2
Player of the Game: Eugenia Trinchinetti (ARG)
Umpires: Tyler Klenk (CAN), Catalina Montesino (CHI), Bruce Bale (ENG-reserve), Rachel Williams (ENG-video)

Result: Men’s Match 7
Argentina 2 , Germany 2 (3-4 Shootout)
Player of the Match: Niklas Bosserhoff (GER)
Umpires: Federico Garcia (URU), Bruce Bale (ENG), Rachel Williams (ENG-reserve), Tyler Klenk (CAN-video)

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