It was a busy day of FIH Pro League action both at HC Rotterdam and the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London. In women’s competition, two goals from Hong Li propelled China 3-2 over the USA on neutral soil, while the Indian women charged back to take the Argentina Leonas to a 2-2 tie and ultimately earn a 2-1 shootout victory. The England women rallied back with an exciting second half to beat Belgium 2-1. To see the current women’s FIH Pro League Standings, click here.
On the men’s side both games of the day needed a shootout to decide the winner. Netherlands and India went to a 2-2 tie after a last second Harmanpreet drag flick forced the tie. Four-straight shootout goals gave the Dutch the 4-1 shootout win and extra point. In London, England drew 2-2 with Belgium and then the home side put on a classy shootout performance to score three and take the bonus point. To see the current men’s FIH Pro League Standings, click here.
China v United States (women) – HC Rotterdam, Rotterdam (NED)
Two late goals were not enough for the United States women who fell 3-2 to China. China tested Kelsey Bing in the American net but were unable to find a way past her in the opening quarter. Alyson Annan’s team China were able to grab a 2-0 lead in the second quarter with goals just one minute apart. Li Hong picked up an aerial in space and charged the American circle. She took Bing to her stick side and finished on a reverse-stick sweep for China’s opener. Another aerial set up the second goal as Yuan Meng brought the ball down all alone in the circle and controlled it past Bing to double China’s lead.
Erin Matson had a chance to cut China’s lead in half but her penalty stroke was fabulously saved by a stretched out Liu Ping.
A ball from Luo TianTian split the American defence and allowed Yuan Meng to one-time her second of the game and give China the 3-0 lead in the fourth quarter.
The USA stayed focused and were able to draw a penalty corner after a strong run from Jacqueline Sumfest on the Chinese baseline. The flick from Elizabeth Yeager was saved and the ball ricocheted around in front of the Chinese goal only to get a final touch from Leah Crouse and get the Americans on the board. Pace and patience allowed the USA to stay in it and they were able to strike again when a ball from Alia Marshall deflected into the circle and Megan Rodgers one-timed the ball from an impossible angle to bring the USA trailing by one, down 3-2.
China led in most categories on the stats sheet with 25 circle penetrations to USA’s 14 and seven penalty corners to the Americans’ four. With the three points, China continue to sit in eighth in the standings with 12 points and sitting above the Americans who are in ninth with two points. Hong Li was named Player of the Match for her two fantastic goals.
“We are very happy to get the three points,” said Chian’s Cui Qiuxia after the match. “We played a really good first half and first quarter and we are looking forward to the next game and playing better. In the last quarter we lost the tempo and we have to learn from the match so this is a good improvement for the team.”
India v Argentina (women) - HC Rotterdam, Rotterdam (NED)
It was a game of set-piece finishes that toggled back and forth between India and the already-determined FIH Pro League champions, Argentina, on neutral territory in Rotterdam. India showed fantastic patience and execution to match the speed and unpredictably of the Leonas. India celebrated taking Argentina to a 3-3 tie in regulation time and then finishing in style, earning the bonus point with a 2-1 win in the shootout. It was a dual celebration for India as Neha celebrated her 100th international after the game.
A brilliant over the shoulder deflection from Lalremsiani opened the scoring for the game and for India in the fourth minute of play. Argentina were able to draw level in the second quarter on an Agustina Gorzelany penalty corner flick that ricocheted off the Indian post player’s stick and up into the mesh. Gorzelany put away two more from set pieces in the third quarter, first from a penalty stroke and then from a slick corner routine.
India played catch up tying the game 2-2 on a deceptive penalty corner flick from Kaur Gurjit in the 37th minute and then the tying third goal came off a rocket from an off-set battery execution in the 51st. The late goal sent the game to what would be Argentina’s third-straight shootout following their last two shootout losses to the Netherlands.
The Leonas struggled to execute in the shootout as Julieta Jankunas’ shot hit the back of her stick and bobbled wide, while Maria Granatto uncharacteristically lost control of the ball before even mustering a shot. Rocio Sanchez’s shot couldn’t beat Indian keeper Savita between the legs and Victoria Granatto was the only Leona to find the back of the net. Meanwhile, India showed class and flare as Neha and Sonika were able to calmly beat Belen Succi in the Argentina goal and secure the extra point for coach Janneke Schopman’s side.
“We did really good and are all playing very well,” said India’s Lalremsiani, named Player of the Match after her brilliant deflection goal in the game. “It’s not easy to win over Argentina because they are a good team. I am proud of our performance. We played as a team and played together, helping each other and we had a good effort as a team so I’m really happy with that.”
Both teams will dual again tomorrow at HC Rotterdam for the second of their double-header FIH Pro League match up.
England v Belgium (women) - Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London (ENG)
It was a cracker of a game that saw England storm back from an early 1-0 deficit to take three points and a 2-1 victory over the visiting Belgian Red Panthers.
A big turnover in the middle of the pitch allowed an efficient counterattack from Belgium in the sixth minute of play. Alix Gerniers calmly weaved the ball through traffic and slid the ball perfectly to Michelle Struijk charging towards the penalty spot. Struijk expertly lifted the ball on her first touch and then volleyed it in and over a sliding Maddie Hinch.
Belgium dominated the first half but were unable to find another past Hinch. A dangerous back-hand cross from Pauline Leclef was booked for Ambre Ballenghien’s stick but a pivotal interception from Giselle Ansley stymied the play. Stephanie vanden Borre thought she might double her side’s lead, but her penalty corner flick was saved by the right kicker of Hinch. England also tried to draw level on a corner routine from Isabelle Petter to Anna Toman but the play hit traffic and England also lost their video referral.
It was an exciting second half that saw the home side find their rhythm and a different tempo. Wave after wave of England attack stumped the Belgians. Fiona Crackles fed Tessa Howard in the 42nd minute and Howard’s quick reception allowed a superb execution to tie the game 1-1. In the final quarter, penalty corner ace Grace Balsdon fired one between the legs of Aisling D’Hooghe for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal.
Player of the Match Fiona Crackles said after the game: ‘It was a pretty tough game out there today. We started pretty well, and they got a goal against the play but we kept playing and kept believing. I think half time was the turning point for us. We had some clear points we wanted to work on, and we executed that in the second half. I think a bit part of it is for us to play brave and break them down. We have to play fast, play smart but not rush.”
England v Belgium (men) - Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London (ENG)
England were perfect on three straight shoot-out attempts, while Oliver Payne made two key saves to secure the bonus point after a 2-2 draw with Belgium.
England coach Zak Jones said before the match that Belgium like to keep the ball for long periods and can handle the ball well so it would be important for his side to break up their rhythm.
It wasn’t that clear cut though as England had just one penalty corner and half as many circle penetrations as Belgium in the first half. Nick Bandurak’s flick attempt was well paced and booked for under the cross bar but was steered away by Loic van Doren’s glove. David Condon then thought he had earned his side a penalty stroke but it was overturned after an umpire referral after Victor Wegnez’s tackle was deemed legal.
In the 22nd minute Stuart Rushmere’s lifted dribble into the Belgian circle was finished off by Will Calnan who squeezed the ball into the turf and up into the mesh for a 1-0 England lead.
It was a quick start to the third corner as both teams were able to tally in the 31st minute. First it was England’s turn. David Goodfield’s fabulous running in midfield opened space to feed Chris Griffiths at the top of the circle. Calnan was able to sneak in on the left side and one-time flick the ball past van Doren for a 2-0 England lead. Belgium were not going to go down quietly as they were able to find a quick response. Arthur de Sloover had a give-and-go inside the circle with Cédric Charlier and then the finish from de Sloover came on the back-hand from nearly no angle to break Oliver Payne’s thoughts of a shutout.
A painful 60th minute drag flick from Alexander Hendrickx gave Belgium the 2-2 tying goal to force the game to a shootout. Payne made two superb shootout saves, while Phil Roper, James Albery and Liam Ansell scored with class to secure the extra point after a 3-0 shootout.
David Goodfield, named Player of the Match, said after the game: ‘I think we went out there today and really played our game. It was something about the two Dutch games that we were a bit frustrated about. We went out there and did well defensively and we wanted to be out on the front foot. It was good we were being brave and playing forwards and take the game on and that led to us taking chances.’
Netherlands v India (men) - HC Rotterdam, Rotterdam (NED)
It was an exciting match up as Harmanpreet’s penalty corner flick drew India and Netherlands 2-2 in the final seconds of the game. Despite the late heroics, the Netherlands earned the bonus point with a 4-1 score line in the shootout.
The Netherlands opened the scoring in the first quarter with some patience and precision in the Indian circle. A baseline run from Derck de Vilder drew open the space for the pass to find Tijmen Reyenga but credit to Reyenga who patiently moved the ball away from the net to be able to unleash a rocket past Sreejesh.
A half-field aerial was brought down in the Dutch circle by Abishek and persistence paid off as he was the beneficiary of two shots that ultimately became two saves by keeper Pirmin Blaak. Then the Dutch looked dangerous as Thierry Brinkman’s cross found Jorrit Croon but the one-timer went just wide of the Indian net.
Dilpreet Singh made it 1-1 before half time on a superb deflection from a free hit outside the 23-meter line taken quickly by Kumar Varun.
The teams traded attacks but it was the Netherlands who secured the next tally. A counter-attack that started from the top of the Dutch circle sprung Steijn van Heijningen who was able to cleverly find Koen Bijen. Bijen curled and finished with a diving effort to bring the Netherlands up 2-1. India continued to push for the tying goal but the Dutch put on a resilient defensive game around their circle. The Dutch had a penalty corner to advance their lead with minutes left in the game but Sreejesh steered the Jip Janssen flick wide.
Abishek earned the all-important penalty corner for India with 20 seconds left on the clock. Harmanpreet’s flick was blocked but a re-award gave India the second chance. Harmanpreet made no mistake this time beating Blaak glove side low to force the shootout.
Terrance Pieters, Thijs van Dam and Jonas de Geus and Koen Bijen all found a way past Sreejesh, while Blaak made two great saves on Harmanpreet and Abishek. Prasad Vivek Sagar was the lone Indian player to score as he quickly turned to slot the ball under Blaak. With the 4-1 score line the Netherlands take the extra point to move to the top of the FIH Pro League standings.
Thijs van Dam was named Player of the Match from the Netherlands. He commented that the team played well in regulation time and were unfortunate to have a corner against in the final seconds. He gave credit to India who have been playing well so far in the Pro League and who played well at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
FIH Pro League action continues tomorrow, 19 June, with women’s action back at HC Rotterdam as China plays USA, India play Argentina. The Netherlands men will also host India in Rotterdam. Over at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre England host Belgium again for the second of their double-header weekend for both the men and women.
FIH Pro League – 18 June 2022
HC Rotterdam, Rotterdam (NED)
Result: Women’s Match #62
China 3, USA 2
Player of the Match: Hong Li (CHN)
Umpires: Laurine Delforge (BEL), Ivona Makar (CRO), Bruce Bale (ENG-video)
Result: Women’s Match #61
India 3, Argentina 3 (2-1 shootout)
Player of the Match: Lalremsiani (IND)
Umpires: Liu Xiaoying (CHN), Céline Martin-Schmets (BEL), Ivona Makar (CRO-video)
Result: Men’s Match #67
Netherlands 2, India 2 (4-1 Shootout)
Player of the Match: Thijs van Dam (NED)
Umpires: Jakub Mejzlik (CZE), Bruce Bale (ENG), Laurine Delforge (BEL-video)
Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London (ENG)
Result: Women’s Match #63
England 2, Belgium 1
Player of the Match: Fiona Crackles (ENG)
Umpires: Alison Keogh (IRL), Michelle Meister (GER), Coen van Bunge (NED-video)
Result: Men’s Match #68
England 2, Belgium 2 (3-0 shootout)
Player of the Match: David Goodfield (ENG)
Umpires: Paul Walker (ENG), Coen van Bunge (NED), Michelle Meister (GER-video)
To see the complete FIH Hockey Pro League match schedule, please click here.
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