Day 16 was the final day at the Hockey World League in Johannesburg and the big guns were out. Today were both the men’s and women’s final as well as the 3rd/4th place playoffs.
England v Argentina
Both of these teams were pre-tournament favourites to reach the final, so it was a surprise to see them both lose out in the semis.
England had the better of the early chances and a shot on 3 minutes by Sarah Haycroft had to be well saved by Succi.
A minute later and Argentina had a chance when Cavallero passed to Fernandez in the D but she fired her shot over the bar.
On 7 minutes a shot fired in by Danson caught a foot in the D and England had the first penalty corner of the match. A great drag flick by Grace Balsdon was directed to the top corner but Succi was there to keep it out.
Argentina had a chance on 11 minutes when the ball found Granatto in the circle but her reverse stick shot was high and wide.
A minute later and a great run by Owsley, carrying the ball in from the right found Bray who scored from just behind Succi. 1-0 England.
Argentina worked hard to get back into it but England were well in control until the end of the quarter.
With 4 minutes of the 2nd quarter gone, Argentina won their first PC of the game as Maddie Hinch couldn’t get the ball from underneath her. A trademark drag flick from Barrionuevo was fired in but Hinch was even to it.
Seconds later and Argentina were level when von de Heyde turned at the top of the D and smashed a backhand against the backboard.
On 24 minutes, England were on the attack and Succi again had to be alert to keep out Danson’s Backhand.
On 27 minutes a great move by England was started and finished by Townsend when she received the ball back from Danson to calmly pop the ball past Succi to make it 2-1 England.
With 2 minutes of the half left, Argentina referred for a foot and won their 2nd penalty corner of the match. Once again it was Barrionuevo and once again Maddie Hinch was equal to it.
With just 26 seconds left on the clock, Argentina had another chance to equalise with penalty corner number 3. Barrionuevo appeared to have lost the ball but picked it back up and fed it into the D where Merino deflected it past a frustrated Hinch to make it 2-2 at half time. A cracking game.
In the first minute of the 2nd half Argentina won a penalty corner which England referred and the video umpire overturned.
On 35 minutes England had the ball in the net through Unsworth. The Initial pass from Danson looked like it was going to be turned home by Martin but a great save by Succi couldn’t only push the ball to Jo Hunter, who calmly passed to Unsworth to pop over the line. 3-2 England.
England had a chance to extend the lead on 38 minutes when Shona McCallin was one on one with Succi, but the Argentina keeper was strong once again. Just then Laura Unsworth was shown a green card for not retreating 5.
Argentina had a chance to take advantage as they went down the other end to win their 4th Penalty corner. Once again it was Barrionuevo but Maddie Hinch touched it round the post.
In the 41st minute, Maria Granatto was shown a 5 minute yellow and it was England who had the numeric advantage.
England were keeping Argentina pegged back and the South Americans were having to work hard to keep them from taking advantage, and that’s how the quarter finished.
On 48 minutes, good work by Danson earned England their 2nd penalty corner. A great drag flick by Ansley was squeezed just inside Succi’s right post to make it 4-2 for England.
A minute later and Susannah Townsend was gifted a ball in the D but fired her shot wide. Seconds later, Jo hunter picked up a green card for hitting the ball away after the whistle.
On 50 minutes a great run by Owsley from the half way line into the D forced Succi to come out and bring down Owsley, and the umpire called for a penalty stroke. Giselle Ansley stepped up and easily put the ball past the keeper’s left to make it 5-2 to England.
Argentina were trying to get hold of the ball but England’s defence were solid.
On 56 minutes, Merino weaved into the D and her cross was deflected high for a penalty corner for Argentina. The ball hit the runner’s foot and Barrionuevo tried again, but this time her drag was deflected wide.
Argentina were hunting in packs to get the ball off England but they were unable to find a way thorough the dogged back line. Argentina were also leaving themselves exposed at the back and only Succi kept them from making it 6 with some fine goalkeeping.
With only one second left on the clock Argentina won a penalty corner but the shot was saved by Hinch and the umpire called for another penalty corner. This time, Gomez dragged the ball but it was wide and that’s how the game finished. 5-2 to England.
Australia v Spain
If the previous game was anything to go by then this should be a good game.
From the off Australia were on top and after 7 minutes, Jake Whetton put them ahead.
Then, either side of the first quarter, two penalty corners for Australia were neatly put away by Jeremy Hayward to make it 3-0 after 18 minutes.
Australia weren’t finished and 3 minutes before the end of the half, Aaron Kleinschmidt made it 4.
Kleinschmidt added another 4 minutes into the second half and then Tom Craig made it 6 with just 36 minutes gone.
At 6-0, this was turning into a very one-sided affair.
At the end of the 3rd quarter it was 7 as Trent Mitton swivelled at the top of the D to push past the keeper.
Spain weren’t without their chances throughout the game, but as in the first quarter, regardless of the number of chances, they just couldn’t make it pay in the final 23.
With just over 2 minutes to go a great run by Tristan White found Tom Wickham in the D and finished well to make it 8-0.
Moments later, Spain won a penalty corner, which Australia referred but the decision was upheld. Spain fired a good shot but it caught a foot for a retake. This time, a great drag flick by Pau Quemada found the top corner to give Spain a consolation.
Spain did push in the final seconds but the game finished 8-1to Australia.
USA v Germany
It was Germany who pushed back but USA got hold of the ball and attacked first but Germany were able to defend well to keep it out.
With only 2 minutes gone, there was a green card for Nike Lorenz and USA almost took advantage but Jill Witmer’s shot was well kept out.
On 5 minutes it was USA again, and once again Witmer was at the heart of it with a backhand cross whipped in which Gonzalez just couldn’t get on the end of.
As the quarter reached the half way point it was Germany’s turn to apply the pressure, but solid US defending stopped them making any great chances.
With 2 minutes left it was USA on the attack but once again, good German defending limited any shot on goal and the quarter went on to finish goalless.
Both teams are close in world rankings, with USA 6 and Germany 7 and this game was turning out to be as tight as the rankings would suggest.
With 3 minutes gone in the 2nd quarter, the umpire awarded Germany a penalty corner for obstruction, which USA referred. The video umpire overturned the decision and USA kept their referral. In the melee, Lauren Moyer was shown a green card for dissent and USA were down to 10.
On 21 minutes a great run by Vittese found Witmer but Germany’s last ditch tackle kept the danger away.
Seconds later and Germany were on the attack when Stapenhorst broke into the D but her shot was well kept out by Briggs.
On 24 minutes, Germany were putting a lot of pressure on the USA goal but a great double save by Jackie Briggs ensured the score stayed goalless.
A minute later a wicked shot by Marie Mavers was once again stopped by Briggs who parried it up to give Germany their 2nd penalty corner. A great drag was fired in and Jackie Briggs again made a fantastic stop.
The USA had been pretty much camped in their own half for the 2nd quarter but it still remained no score, a statistic Germany could well regret.
The 2nd half started as the first finished with USA on the back foot. Germany’s chances were limited though, and USA were defending quite easily.
On 38 minutes, Germany finally got the goal they’d been threatening when Mavers picked up the ball on the back line and passed to Camille Nobis who finished easily to give Germany a 1-0 lead.
Germany were almost 2 up 2 minutes later when Naomi Hayn’s deflection went just wide.
On 43 minutes Germany won their 2nd penalty corner which they made a bit of a mess of at the top of the D and the chance was gone. Just after, Germany picked up a yellow card when Amelie Wortmann smashed the stick out of Katelyn Ginolfi’s hand.
USA did attack a bit more in the last minute but they couldn’t make the advantage pay and they went into the final quarter still one goal down.
It was still all Germany, with USA making the odd counter attack but neither side could muster a shot on target.
With 8 minutes left, Stapenhorst had a chance to double the lead but her backhand shot was fired wide.
With 3 minutes left, a yellow was shown to Amelie Wortmann to give USA hope as the clock ticked down. With 2 minutes to go, the umpire awarded a penalty stroke to USA which the Germans referred but the video umpire upheld and Taylor West lifted high and to the right of the keeper to level with 2 minutes left on the clock.
It was USA all the way for the last few minutes as Germany were struggling to keep them out and with one second left on the clock, the USA referred for a penalty corner. The video umpire decided it was no PC and the game went to a shootout.
Germany’s Janne Wieland stepped up first and made no mistake, then Gonzalez made easy work of rounding the keeper to make it 1-1
Next up was Nike Lorenz and her strike was easily kept out by Briggs. Michelle Vittese then stepped up and she also rounded the keeper to make it 2-1 USA after two.
Mavers was next for Germany and she kept her cool to beat Briggs just before the hooter. Sharkey then came for USA and her shot was well saved. 2-2 after three.
Germany captain Jana Teschke was then forced wide by Briggs giving Alyssa Manley the chance to put USA back in the lead but her shot was just wide. Still 2-2 after four.
Franzisca Hauke took her time to get the ball in the net and the video umpire had to be brought in to see if the ball had crossed line before the hooter went. It didn’t and then, as cool as you like, up stepped 17 year old Erin Matson to win the game for USA.
Belgium v Germany
Belgium and Germany came out for the final of the Men’s World Hockey League to a packed crowd. Both teams had played some great hockey so far in the tournament, and when the sides met in the pool stages it was Germany who took the spoils.
This time, though, it was Belgium on the up taking a 14th minute lead, courtesy of a Arthur van Doren’s penalty corner.
With the 2nd quarter only a minute old, Germany struck back when Tom Grambusch converted his penalty corner to bring the sides level.
Belgium then scored two goals in quick succession to take a 3-1 advantage; leading scorer, Tom Boon, netting a penalty corner on 20 minutes, followed 2 minutes later by Amaury Keusters on 22.
3 minutes before the half time break and Belgium made it 4 with a very well taken goal by Cedric Charlier, whose 3-D skills eluded the German defence before he fired home.
It had been close in the final quarter and Germany were knocking on the door but Charlier was once again on target on 58 minutes and with a minute to go, Augustin Meurmans put the icing on the cake to give Belgium a 6-1 win.
Aside from their close defeat by Germany in the pool matches, Belgium have looked the most classy team and were definitely deserved winners.
What a great couple of week’s it’s been here in Johannesburg and a marvellous advert for the game in South Africa. We’ve loved every minute!