|February 26th, 2013|
|3||Round Robin||11:00am||IRL - BLR||0 - 2 (0 - 0)||Final|
Ireland – Belarus 0-2 (0-0 halftime)
The Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in Valencia had its first major upset as top-seeded Ireland lost against fourth-seeded Belarus in a low-scoring 2-0 decision.
The loss is a big blow for the 15th-ranked Irish, who now find themselves virtually in a must-win position in their next two games against strong opponents Italy and Spain. For 21st-ranked Belarus, the victory keeps them surprisingly n the hunt for the Hockey World League Semi-Finals with four points in their first two games.
The game got off to a fairly lethargic start under sunny skies and perfect hockey conditions in Valencia. There was a lot of back-and-forth action in the neutral zone but very few scoring chances. The penalty corner chances were harmless and both sides lacked a sense of urgency.
The tempo started to change 10 minutes into the second half after Belarus had a near miss on a breakaway. The opportunity served as a wake-up call for both teams, who suddenly sparked to life for the remainder of the game. Belarus finally found the back of the new when Ryta Bakura defelcted in a peantly corner stroke to give Belarus the 1-0 lead.
Ireland tried to get the equalizer, but Belarus goalkeeper Maryna Navitskaya stood her ground and came up with a few big saves to thwart the Irish hopes.
"I would have to say that on a scale of one to ten, today was a ten for us," said an elated Navitskaya after the game. "We played very well and worked really hard and I'm very happy we won."
Belarus had a slew of penalty corners late in the game and finally sealed the win when Natstissia Syraezhka scooped up an errant shot on an initial flick and went to the far corner to put in the odd angle goal. The 2-0 goal sealed the victory for Belarus as they celebrated the big upset victory.