Italy vs. Turkey
Day 4 sees the final set of first round games. After drawing their previous match, Italy will be hurting and the lowest ranked side of the tournament, Turkey, might get a bruising today. The Turks, who have an average age of 21 years amongst their squad haven’t got a single point yet in the competition. Pre-match the rain is coming down heavier then it has all week and a number of puddles are starting to appear on the pitch. The ball patrol kids are out along the touchline though, so it looks like we’re going to so ahead with the match. An announcement comes over the tannoy to say that the start of the game will be delayed as three Scottish Hockey Union officials come onto the pitch with brooms are start sweeping water away from the goal areas. Eventually, we get along with the national anthems and we get ready for the fist water polo fixture of the EuroHockey Championships. Luckily the rain has eased up in time for the push back.
Three minutes into the match, Italy get the first short corner. The Turks are not happy with the decision, but the umpire says that she has seen three stick fouls in the build up to the moment that she blew her whistle. It’s swept straight at the keeper and played out of defence. In the eighth minute, the Italians get another chance to score after being awarded a second penalty corner. It’s swept to the outside of the right hand post and deflected in by Lara Oviedo. The Italians have had the larger amount of possession so far in the game, playing quite a high defensive line. They like to spread it across the full backs, probing for weakness, looking for space. At the end of the first period, the score is Italy 1 – 0 Turkey.
During the break, Eugenia Bianchi looks to be in a bit of discomfort, as her left thigh gets some attention from the team physiotherapist. Within three minutes of the second quarter, Emilia Munitis plays the ball in from the left across the Turkish circle. Oviedo shots, hits the keeper and the rebound is tucked away by Giuliana Ruggieri to make it 2 – 0.
The Turks are up against it now, there has been some defensive organisation, but they haven’t managed a shot at goal yet and now it has started to rain again. Number six, Ece Sahiner mounts an attack down the left flank, but slips in the corner of the pitch before she can manage to centre the ball and the Italians walk away in possession. In the seventh minute, however, Turkey do earn a penalty corner, their first of the game. Perihan Küçükkoç slips it left to her captain, Leyla Öztürk, who shoots and it’s deflected into the goal off of an Italian stick. The goal is credited to Ozturk as they are no own goals in hockey; Italy 2 – 1 Turkey.
The rain is going down hard now, but the Turks are attacking with a bit more fluidity. At the very least they had a few more circle penetrations, then earlier on. With a little over five minutes left of the half, the rain is now worse then it was at the start of the game. The pitch is soaked, but Turkey get their second short corner. The injection is slowed down by the standing water on the pitch. There’s a retake. The shot is blocked and the rebound is sent wide of the post. Both teams are struggling to play the ball now. Chiara Tiddi nearly gets caught out passing it across her back line, simply because of the residue on the turf and with 4 minutes and 19 seconds left of the half, the game is postponed. The players are heading into the changing rooms at this point. This might take a while. The Scottish Hockey Union have now sent out four guys with brooms to help clear the water off the pitch. Finally, the rain stops, the water has been cleared (mostly) off the pitch and the teams come out for a warm up. The sun has even started to shine, as some of the grey clouds start to shift from the skies. Maryna Vynohradova of Italy and Turkey’s Melis Kösker face off for a bully and we get under way.
There’s still quite of bit of spray coming up off the pitch and the ball pace is still slower than it should be due to the added traction. At least it’s just not stopping between players now. Shortly after the restart, Turkish goalkeeper, number 20 Elif Küpeli, has to make a stop at her near post and the ball is cleared off the baseline for an Italian short corner. It’s played into a crowded area and Italy get another go at things. This time the ball is deflected over the bar for a long corner, but nothing comes of it. The set pieces keep coming for Italy, Ruggieri drives into the circle and draws a foul for another short. This time it’s slipped to the left to create an angle and sent to the right hand post for a simple tap in. Lara Oviedo gets her second goal of the game. We eventually get to half time and the score is now Italy 3 – 1 Turkey.
In the third minute of the second half, Turkey’s number nine, Ayla Esen, gets a green card for a challenge on Celina Traverso. A little over five minutes into the third period, Italy add a fourth goal to their tally, the ball is played into the circle, from the left hand side, it’s move to Ruggieri, who slots the ball away in open play for her second goal of the game; Italy 4 – 1 Turkey.
The Italians are coming forward with ease. It seems that every time they come forward, there is a circle entry. With seven minutes left of the period, they get their first short corner of the game. One of the Turkish defenders blocks it, but sends the ball high and of course another penalty corner is awarded. It’s a slap at goal from the top of the circle Küpeli performs a decent stick save and plays the ball onto an Italian foot. Possession turns over. Two minutes later Italy earn another short. Jasbeer Singh traps the ball in the left hand castle. The ball is sent to the right hand post by Ivanna Pessina who tucks it into the bottom corner. The score is now 5 – 1.
With a little over two minutes remaining, Turkey get their first penalty corner of the match, as Küçükkoç drives into the circle and draws a stick foul. It’s blocked by the Italian defensive team and the phase of play burns out. Shortly afterwards, Jasbeer Singh of Italy intercepts the ball on the half way line. The move she starts off culminates in a goal for Munitis. 6 – 1 at three quarter time.
For the fourth period Turkey change their keepers. On come Serpil Turker. Within 50 seconds she has conceded her first goal. An attack down the left sees the ball passed to Vynohradova. She has plenty of space in the circle, has time to take a touch, wind up and absolutely smacks it onto the back boards; Italy 7 – 1 Turkey. At least for the Turks the sun is shining and they’re no longer wet.
The first short corner of the period goes to Italy. A trick routine is slipped to Chiara Tiddi. She slaps it and sends the ball towards the post to her right make to make it eight goals for her team. This is now the highest scoring match of the tournament. A minute later Italy are at it again, Tiddi getting another goal from a short corner. The ladies in blue are rampant now and it’s two goals in quick succession for their captain; Italy 9 – 1 Turkey.
A green card for Jasbeer Singh in the tenth minute, will make life a little easier for Turkey now. They might need to keep possession a bit better then they have been so far. In the seventh minute play doesn’t stop after a collision between an Italian and a Turkish player. It looks like a clash of heads, between Ivanna Pessina and Yeter Çelik, but regardless, advantage is played and Italy get their tenth goal and the first of the game for number 31, Sofia Cesanelli.
The Turks have stopped tracking back when they lose the ball now and the game has really opened up. With five minutes remaining Italy get another penalty corner, Tiddi takes the shot, but the runner deflects the ball upwards. It goes goalwards and it’s saved by the keeper, but another short corner is awarded. This time it’s slapped wide of the post. This has become a training match for Italy, and I don’t even think that they are at 100% now. 10 – 1 is the final score. This represents the most goals scored in one match for a team, as well as the highest scoring match, between two teams, in the championship so far.