Poland vs. Italy
The second match of the day sees the two winners from yesterdays games come up against each other. The tournament favourites Italy will want to consolidate their push for top spot in the group. Poland go into today’s match currently in first place in Pool A, albeit on goal difference after their 6 – 0 win yesterday. There’s been a lot of possession in deep areas for Italy, recycling the ball, most of the time being methodical. The Polish keeper, Marta Kucharska, has touched the ball a couple of times, but not actually from a shot at goal and she’s been the busier of the two. As the clock for the first period counts down Poland have hardly had a sniff so far. It’s 0 – 0 after 15 minutes.
Two minutes into the second quarter we have our first short corner. It’s for the Italians. The shot is a slap from Chiara Tiddi at the top of the circle which tests the keeper, but now Poland counter. Italy do well enough to keep them to the sideline and within their half. In the fourth minute the Poles have a good shout for a short corner themselves, after what appeared to be a foot inside the Italian circle, but the umpire didn’t agree.
In the sixth minute the experienced Polish attacker Natalia Wisniewska is shown a green card for a stick foul. The Italianstake advantage of their numerical advantage and get a short corner. It’s slipped back to the injector, but her slap shot doesn’t connect and the ball rolls off the pitch. An attack down the Polish left wing sees an attacker on the baseline, who looks to centre the ball. Tiddi manages to get back in time to make the interception, but I’d imagine that her heart rate may have been elevated as she has to play the ball out of defence under some pressure. Poland are pressing higher now and the Italian defence doesn’t look overly comfortable. At half time the game remains scoreless. 0 – 0.
The Poles start the second half with ambitions, testing the Italian keeper, Natalia Schinoni, early on. Six minutes into the third quarter, Wisniewska earns a short corner, after she spins her player and finds an Italian foot in the circle. It’s deflected wide for an Italian free hit out. There are five minutes left, and the umpire sees a push on the Italian ball carrier in the circle and they win the penalty corner. The ball is injected out to Tiddi, who gives it back to the injector, who at least connects this time, but misses the target. 23 year old Karolina Grochowalska of Poland is shown a green card just before the hooter for hitting the ball after whistle. At three quarter time, we still have a stalemate.
The game has been a little bitty, a few stick fouls and breakdowns. Poland have a good shout for a penalty stroke, at least the crowd thinks so, after Chiara Tiddi puts in a physical challenge on the ball carrier in her own defensive area. The umpires thought that she got the ball first and not one player calls for it. There’s a similar coming together at the other end as well, but outside the circle. With seven minutes remaining Marianela Busechian gets a knock to the face and requires ice on her bench. Shortly afterwards Elisabetta Pacella is shown a yellow card for a stick check. Poland win the ball high up the pitch and the pass finds a runner in a one on one with Schinoni, but doesn’t change the angle and moves the ball into the keeper. With 90 seconds remaining the ball is centred across the polish circle.
Lara Oviedo runs onto it and takes a push shot first time, hitting the keeper. So close. 0 – 0 is the final score and the first goaless draw of the tournament. The Italians are not pleased. This was meant to be their moment to push forward in the competition. The Poles seem a bit happier with the result. I speak to the Polish captain, Marlena Rybacha after the match. She describes her team as fighters. She tells me that there are a mix of youth and experience within the side and there is a period of growth occurring here. The skipper also states that it is exciting, for fans and players alike, how Pool A is shaping up. We now have a three horse race for the semi finals, going into the final round of first round games.