|May 3rd, 2008|
|15||Round-Robin||4:30pm||IRL - ITA||0 - 2 (0 - 0)||Final|
The last game of the day, and of pool play, was critical to decide which team would advance to the Final against Korea: after their unexpected setback against Malaysia, Italy absolutely needed a win while Ireland would go through with only a draw.
Italy pressured immediately the Irish defense and had two good chances in a succession of penalty-corners but Mary GOODE in the Irish net was vigilant. Ireland only had scoring opportunities on penalty-corners, while Italy controlled most of the play in first half. They had a number of penalty-corners, and even benefited form an unexpected defensive giveaway, but could not break the Irish defensive shell, well backed by an inspired Mary GOODE.
The break was reached with still no score, a situation serving Ireland. The momentum seemed to switch early in the second half, Ireland controlling the ball well and passing it in the backfield, forcing the Italians to run after it and to progress only with long hits or isolated runs. The Irish attacks became more dangerous and Nikki SYMMONS (celebrating her 100th Cap for Ireland) missed a golden opportunity when she deflected a drive just over the crossbar.
Italy finally scored on a penalty-corner in the 56th minute with a direct shot by Chiara TIDDI. With the situation turned around, Ireland could not afford to sit back, and needed to push and score. They didn’t help their cause when they were reduced to ten players after a yellow card to Bridget McKEEVER, and Francesca FAUSTINI added an insurance goal, triggering wild celebrations in the Italian camp.
In a desperate last move, Irish coach Gene Muller replaced his goalkeeper with an extra field player. The tactic generated two good chances in the final minutes but they just could not score, conceding to Italy the honor to play Korea in the Final.