2016 was a year full of ups and downs for Las Leonas (the Argentine Women’s hockey team). The stellar performance they showed in the Champions Trophy in June, where they became the only team to have won the trophy seven times, was followed six weeks later by the Olympics In Rio, where they travelled there full of hope. However, their dreams were dashed when they couldn’t beat their arch rivals, The Netherlands, in the quarter finals, leaving Las Leonas empty handed. It was a hard blow because they have won a medal at every Olympics since 2000, with the gold medal being the only one that has eluded them.
There was still one last competition for Argentina in 2016, the Junior World Cup in Chile. This was a competition that they hadn’t won since 1993, including a defeat in the final against The Netherlands in 2012. But this time the result was different. Once again they faced The Netherlands, but on this occasion Las Leoncitas (The young Lionesses) triumphed 4-2 with a great display of hockey, showing us what great things we can expect from these young players.
After the disappointment in Rio, Las Leonas needed to start over; to find a new identity, to discover their game again or build a new one. So, Agustin Corradini was appointed as the new coach; the same that coached Las Leoncitas in Chile, and along with him, many new faces were added to the team travelling to Johannesburg this July.
We thought you might want to know a little about them , so we’ve put together a brief description of each of them.
Lucina Von Der Heyde: Although she has a German surname, she is Argentinian. Luchi was the Las Leoncitas captain in the Junior World Cup last year. She already has a few international matches under her belt because she went to Rio as well as playing in the World League Finals in 2016. Her club, River Plate, were champions last year and her coach there is none other than Sergio Vigil, the man that led Las Leonas to their first major title. Her position is low fullback and when needed she goes back to the defence line or joins the attack. Her coaches and teammates praise her ability with the ball and how smart her play is.
Eugenia Trinchinetti: The girl from club San Fernando wears the No.4 jersey and was another of the stars at the Junior World Cup. One of her strengths is how fast she is when she runs on the right wing. That is why she is also one of the short corner defenders. Euge can also score and she did so many times at the Junior World Cup.
Agustina Gorzelany: Her friends called her Gorze and her main strength is her powerful and precise flick, either when she’s running or not. This is why Agustin Corradini wants Noel Barrionuevo to teach her everything she knows about short corners, and at the Junior World Cup she was one of the short corner shooters. Besides that, she’s a wall in the defense line and was the captain that led Las Leoncitas to win the Pan-American Junior Tournament in Trinidad and Tobago in 2016.
Agostina Alonso: She wears the No.5 jersey, plays as a winger and is a great tactician. She thinks clearly, distributes really well, is a very good defender when she has to defend, and she is great in the attack where she is one of the playmakers. She has all the characteristics of a typical midfielder and according to her teammate Silvina Pity D’Elia “is what Argentina needed”.
Julieta Jankunas: She’s charismatic and is always in a cheerful mood. Her game has many qualities: she has great temperament, is very intelligent, makes good decisions, takes advantage of the spaces and has a great technique. She is a forward but also plays as a winger and in the Junior World Cup she was a key player helping to win the title. She has a great physical strength and is very skillful in the circle area. Another important piece of information: she is the youngest Leona, at only 18 years old.
Magdalena Fernández Ladra: She wears the No.10 jersey but that doesn’t seem to be a burden to her, although the last Leona that wore it was the magical Soledad García. Magui plays along with her sister Milagros and Agostina Alonso in Banco Nación Club, and her sister is also training with the national team. Magui is a winger but also a forward, and was outstanding at the Junior Cup.
Paula Ortiz: She started playing with Las Leonas in 2015 when they travelled to Valencia, Spain, in the World League semi finals. She also travelled with them to Rio, as a reserve player, and played at the Pan-American Games in Toronto. She is a hard working player, has a great technique and is very reliable on the wings. Another piece of information: She wants to play in The Netherlands and she has already spoken with Florencia Habif – who played there for the Pinoké Dames 1. She tends to push the ball when she hits it, always looks for the transfer of the ball, and gets to the area easily. She is very skillful and likes to elude the goalkeeper when she wants to score.
María José ‘MaJo’ Granatto: Her nickname is “Demonio de Tasmania” (Tazmanian Devil) because her teammates say that she spins and spins and you never know where she is going to go. Everybody in the hockey world knows her well right now. The forward from the Santa Bárbara Club has won several awards so far: “Best Player” and “Top Scorer” at the Pan-American Junior Games in Trinidad and Tobago; the “Revelation” prize in the 2016 Champion Trophy, “Best Player” in the Junior World Cup and the FIH “Rising Star” award in 2016. Majo speaks of her admiration for Carla Rebecchi, her role model as a forward, but in Argentina, we compare her more to Soledad García for her skills when she’s running at full speed, her prowess and strength in the area, and her determination to score.
Now that we know them a little bit more, it will be interesting to see their performance at the World League semi finals. Everybody here in Argentina is excited to see what this “new” team can do and what they can achieve. Good thing is: it’s time to play.