Hockey World League Johannesburg – Women’s Quarter Finals day

As we get to the business end of the tournament, today is arguably one of the most important; the Women’s quarter finals. All of the winners today will qualify for the 2018 World cup, with the losers left to fight for the final spot in the 5th/8th playoffs.

USA v Japan

2nd placed team in pool B, USA, face 3rd placed pool A team Japan. USA had a great start to the tournament, winning both of their opening matches but came unstuck in their next two. Japan have been solid, with their most notable victory coming against England.

There was an important player milestone in USA’s ranks – Katelyn Ginolfi earnt her 250th cap today. An impressive feat that was celebrated by the team after the match

Ginolfi (centre) celebrating her 250th cap with a win alongside teammates and coaching staff

It was USA who started strongest and they kept Japan pegged back in their own half during the opening exchanges. In the 7th minute, USA youngster, Erin Matson, worked her way into the D but her backhand shot went just wide.

It was still all USA with 5 minutes to go in the quarter but they just couldn’t make that final ball pay around the D.

With 2 minutes to go Japan had their first real excursion into the USA D but they couldn’t get their stick on it and USA once again came away on the break.

As the quarter finished it was still USA dominating but there had been no real clear chances to speak of.

USA started the 2nd quarter as they left off the 1st and were keeping Japan pegged in their own half. They were giving Japan no time to get into their game but on 19 minutes they did start to attack, however great defending by USA made sure they didn’t have a shot on target. Just then a strike into the D caught a USA foot to give Japan the first penalty corner of the match.

A well worked move found the injector by the post but Briggs kept it out, unfortunately leading to PC number 2 for Japan. This time a straight shot was kept out well by Briggs and again Briggs was there to keep out the rebound.

Those chances certainly lifted Japan’s game and the USA were forced into some stern defending.

On 23 a loose pass by Hoffman gave the ball to Japan and the pass into the D found Mami Karino unmarked in the D but to the relief of the Americans she couldn’t pick up the ball.

In the 26th minute, Gonzalez whipped the ball in to Witmer who just couldn’t get her stick on the end and the ball harmlessly hit the backboard.

With a minute to go, Gonzalez weaved into the D but nobody could get their stick on the end of the cross and the half ended 0-0.

With only 2 minutes gone USA were down to 10 when captain Melissa Gonzalez picked up a green for moving the ball after the whistle.

It was a lot more evenly matched in the 2nd half and Japan came close on 37 when Shimizu’s diving attempt almost found a touch in front of Briggs.

A minute later and the USA attacked with a cross in from the right which almost saw the Japanese defender put the ball in her own net, but the keeper was able to kick to safety.

With 4 minutes to go, Michelle Vittese showed some great skill to break into the D but Japan’s defence held firm to keep the Americans out again.

With 3 minutes left on the clock USA had the ball in the net though Vittese but Japan referred saying the ball hadn’t travelled 5 before it went in the D. A look at the replay showed that it had, and the goal stood.

USA celebrate finally taking the lead

In the opening minutes of the last quarter, USA’s Taylor West was making a nuisance of herself and on a number of occasions played the ball in from the right, but USA just couldn’t make that final touch.

In the 48th minute, Japan were down to 10 when Kana Nomura picked up a green for hitting the ball away after the whistle. Seconds later Japan came within inches as Yuri Nagai tipped the ball just past the post.

With 9 minutes to go it was all Japan as they surged forward looking for the equaliser but some strong defending by the US managed to keep them out.

USA picked up a 5 minute yellow with 7 to go, when Nicole Woods was found guilty of obstruction.

Japan took advantage almost immediately when they won their 3rd penalty corner of the match. Thankfully for US, they made a hash of play and the move broke down for USA to clear easily.

With 5 minutes to go, Japan brought on their kicking back in a last attempt to get back into the match.

It was a bit hands to the pump for the USA but they were able to see the game out and book their place in the World Cup.


Argentina v Ireland

Argentina come into the game with 4 straight victories and Ireland by way of finishing 4th in pool A.

Argentina pushed back and from the off they were in the Ireland Circle, forcing McFerran into a save within the first 30 seconds.

Ireland did break out of their own half on 6 minutes but couldn’t find a way into the Argentine circle.  After that, normal service was resumed with Argentina on the attack but some calm defending, particularly by the experienced McCay in defence kept Las Leonas at bay.

After the opening 10 minutes of Argentina pressure Ireland started to find their feet and push the South Americans back with a number of circle penetrations, but they could find a finishing touch.

In the dying seconds of the quarter Julieta Jankunas found herself unmarked at the top of the D but her backhand shot was easily saved by McFerran.

It was a much more evenly balanced game in the 2nd quarter with Argentina not having anywhere near as much of the ball as they did in the 1st.

On 23 minutes, it was Jankunas again with a chance for Argentina but her backhand from the top of the D went harmlessly wide.

With 5 minutes of the half left, a terrible mix up in the Irish defence saw McFerran committed and Merino had the easiest of shots into an open goal.

The goal certainly knocked Ireland’s confidence and you could see the nerves every time Argentina came into the Irish 23, but they managed to hold on to go into the half just 1-0 behind and still within touching distance.

As the 2nd half started, Argentina were on the attack again but Ireland were defending with great resolve and calmness, with Roisin Upton coolly taking the ball off a marauding Granatto.

On 38 minutes a great run by Trinchinetti saw her fire a backhand into the D but a great stop by McFerran averted the danger.

A minute later and Argentina won the 1st penalty corner of the match for a foot. A very low drag by Gomez eluded everyone and struck the backboard to give Argentina a 2-0 lead.

Argentina celebrate doubling the lead

With just over 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, Ireland won their 1st penalty corner of the game for obstruction and a great drag flick by Roisin Upton brought Ireland back into the game.

Argentina responded as expected, on the attack but Ireland’s defence held firm to see out the quarter.

Argentina were once again on the attack and a very important interception  by Chloe Watkins just in front of McFerran kept away the danger.

There was no let up from the South Americans but with only one goal in it, you couldn’t rule out an Ireland counter attack upsetting the applecart.

On 53 minutes a speculative aerial found Kathryn Mullan at the top of the D but she couldn’t get her shot away and a minute later the umpire called for a penalty corner which Argentina referred. The video called that there was no reason to change the decision and the PC stood.  Roisin once again fired the drag but it hit the no.1 runner dangerously and a free hit was awarded after Ireland went to the video umpire, losing their referral.

With just over 3 minutes to go, Ireland introduced their kicking back in an attempt to gain an advantage. A minute later it was found that Ireland had 12 players on the field which meant that Irish captain Kathryn Mullan was shown the green card.

Argentina were just trying to run down the clock and their experience showed as they kept the ball to seal the victory and make their way to the semi-finals and the World Cup.

England v India

India pushed back with an overhead but straight away conceded possession to England. India did get into the D moments later but some cool defending by Hollie Webb cleared any danger.

England’s first chance came in the 4th minute but an Alex Danson shot was easily cleared by the Indian keeper. A moment later, good work by Laura Unsworth earned a penalty corner of an India foot. The PC caused confusion as England got the ball into the net but the umpire called no goal. England referred and a retake was awarded. Once again there was a retake after an Indian foot and early breaks meant India had only 2 defenders and keeper on the line.

Some desperate defending by India then resulted in a penalty stroke for England which Giselle Ansley calmly put to the keeper’s left to make it 1-0 to England with just under 6 minutes gone.

England were well on top and passing the ball around with confidence and goal number 2 came when Susannah Townsend’s cross from the left found Danson who finished easily.

India did come close when towards the end of the quarter a speculative shot was fired in but Vandana just couldn’t deflect in front of Hinch and the quarter finished 2-0 to England.

India did make a break from the pushback a foot by Hollie Webb 2 minutes in gave India their 1st penalty corner but a straight strike from the top went just wide of Maddie Hinch’s post.

India’s confidence began to grow as the quarter wore on but they weren’t turning that confidence into chances and England were still quite comfortable.

With 4 minutes to go, India broke into the England D but the cross couldn’t find a striker and the ball was easily cleared. It was one of few chances for India as England continued to dominate.

With less than 3 minutes on the clock, India won their 2nd penalty corner and a shot by Rani was deflected off the post.

Despite having most of the possession England had few chances to talk about and the half finished 2-0.

England pushed back for the 2nd half and were on top immediately putting pressure on the India circle but were unable to make a clear cut chance.

England were well on top but on 38 minutes India started to progress forward, however England were once again very calm and collected in defence, allowing India no chances.

India were getting more possession but they were reduced to firing long shots from outside of the D.

With just under 4 minutes left, a break by England saw Hannah Martin produce some wonderful skill down the right to take the ball in and cross for Susannah Townsend to make it 3-0.

Townsend and England celebrate their third goal

A minute later and India went down the other end, winning their 3rd penalty corner, but a tame shot went wide.

Almost immediately India were back in the D when Shona McCallin swept the ball over the backline for India’s penalty corner number 4 but his time a good shot was kept out by a diving Maddie Hinch.

More confident play by England saw out the quarter which ended 3-0.

England came out on top again in the final quarter and a strike by Danson on the edge of the D had to be well stopped by India’s Keeper, Savita.

4 minutes in and England won their 4th penalty corner which produced a great stick save from Savita to prevent them going 4 up.

On 52 minutes, great play from England saw Townsend break into the D and somehow Danson put the effort over the bar from 2 yards out.

With 3 minutes left a high clearance by Maddie Hinch earned India 4th penalty corner and a lovely drag by Gurjit brought the score back to 3-1.

India then immediately brought on their kicking back but that was their undoing as England broke and Hannah Martin rounded the kicking back to make it 4-1 and that’s how the game ended.

South Africa v Germany

Another big crowd at Wits were relishing the encounter against Olympic Bronze Medal winners, Germany. Today saw South African Captain Nicolene Terblanche win her 200th cap  as well as it being Mandela day here in SA. Although Germany started as favourites, after South Africa’s win over USA on Sunday anything was possible.

In the opening minutes Germany fired a few balls into the D but couldn’t get on the end of them and South Africa were able to clear.

With 4 minutes gone Teresa Pelegrina was clear though on goal but she completely fluffed the shot which went harmlessly wide.

On 7 minutes Germany won the first penalty corner of the match for a stick tackle which went against the no.1 runner’s foot for a retake. A good drag was superbly saved by La Fleur to clear the danger.

Germany were looking the more dangerous as the clock ticked down but South Africa’s defence were doing a great job of keeping them out.

With less than 2 minutes on the clock a great break by South Africa saw Lilian du Plessis break into the 23 and fire a ball across, which the diving Candice Manuel deflected just wide.

That got the crowd going and South Africa finished the quarter strongest.

It was an even start to the 2nd quarter but some good work by Candice Manuel and Shelley Jones caused Germany some headaches down the left on a couple of occasions early on.

South Africa were starting to apply pressure and were turning Germany over with ease, reducing the Germans to long hopeful balls.

On 23 minutes Lilian du Plessis broke forward but her backhand went high over the bar. South Africa wouldn’t let Germany settle and kept frustrating them.

On 25 minutes, South Africa won the 1st penalty corner of the game which went wide, but they then referred saying there was obstruction. The video umpire awarded a penalty corner and a personal penalty to Stapenhorst but for some reason Stapenhorst stayed on the field and the chance went.

With just over a minute left Nobis found herself free and slipped the ball under the keeper to make it 1-0 against the run of play.

With 4 minutes of the 2nd half gone, South Africa won their 2nd penalty corner but it was easily cut out by the no.1 runner.

With 4 minutes left of the quarter, Sulette Damons was clean through on the keeper but she lost control at the last minute and the chance was gone.

As it approached the end of the 3rd quarter, South Africa were on the front foot once again but they just couldn’t make it count with the final ball and it remained 1-0 to Germany.

In the 47th minute German Nina Notman picked up a 5 minute yellow for her 2nd offence, giving South Africa the extra player advantage.

On 49 minutes Candice Manuel was one on one with the keeper and her lifted ball went agonisingly wide.

With 7 minutes to go Manuel brought an aerial down in the D but couldn’t control to get the shot away.

A minute later and South Africa had their 3rd penalty corner which the Germans couldn’t clear and another PC was awarded but a desperate scramble saw the ball cleared by Germany.

The minutes were ticking away and South Africa  were throwing everything forward but just couldn’t find a way through.

With just over 2 minutes left, Germany had the ball in the net but South Africa referred and the decision was reversed.

A few seconds later and South Africa were awarded a penalty corner which they made a terrible mess of and allowed Germany the advantage.

Germany kept the ball in the last minute to see the game out and win their place in the World Cup and World League Final.

Joanne Pilson

Joanne Pilson is from Doncaster, England and is the Communications Officer for Worksop Ladies Hockey Club, writing original, topical content about hockey and women's sports. Joanne plays hockey, cricket and football and enjoys them with a passion, although she's only done so for the last five years. Sport has done so much to enhance her life, she continuously encourages others to take part and does all she can to promote it..