The WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier in Victoria started smoothly for Korea with a clean win over Uruguay (10-0), while Ireland fought hard before taking the better over Malaysia (3-0) and Italy wrestled the victory from Canada (1-2).
The competition is played at the University of Victoria, in an excellent facility diligently prepared for the event. Day 1 was played in fine conditions that were a welcome change from the cold weather earlier in the week.
Game 1 – Korea v. Uruguay: 10-0 (half-time: 5-0)
The first game of the day pitted top ranked Korea against Uruguay, who arrived late in Canada after an eventful and delayed trip. The South Americans absorbed well the initial pressure from the Koreans, even mounting some good attacks of their own, but Korea took the lead after ten minutes of play with two goals in two minutes, first by Seon Ok LEE with a high flick left of the keeper on the second Korean penalty-corner, then by Mi Hyun PARK with a powerful hit from the top of the circle.
The game settled in the Uruguayan half, with Korea displaying their superior speed and individual skills, but they were untidy in their passing and finish, and wasted a number of chances before adding three goals to reach half-time with a comfortable lead (5-0).
Korea kept besieging the Uruguayan circle in the second half, creating multiple opportunities but a few shots were off target before Seul Ki CHEON opened the floodgate with a superb penalty-corner in the top right corner, immediately followed by a field goal by Jin Kyoung KIM and an opportunistic goal by Mi Hyun PARK to complete her hat-trick.
Korea were never in danger in this game and finished with a tally of 10 goals, but they might be unhappy with some of their untidy plays in the first half, and with some on their wasted opportunities. Uruguay played with a lot of determination but were no match for the experienced Koreans.
Game 2 – Italy v. Canada: 2-1 (half-time: 0:0)
The next game was more balanced with two teams very close in the world rankings, 19th for Italy and 23rd for Canada. The Canadian women were eager to play in front of their home crowd, a rare opportunity for them, and immediately grasped control of the proceedings. They created some dangerous situations in front of the Italian goal after dynamic runs from Tiffany MICHAKUK, but could not capitalize on their chances, including on a couple of penalty-corners. The play progressively became more balanced and Sarah FORBES in the Canadian goal was called twice into action on dangerous shots from the top of the circle.
The game was flowing back and forth, entertaining the large crowd, but settled in the midfield. Italy had a late push in the period, earning a penalty-corner, but half-time was reached without goal.
Canada started the second half with a bang, scoring on a penalty-corner in the second minute of play when Christine DePAPE deflected in goal the initial shot by Andrea RUSHTON. Italy immediately reacted and tied the score, despite been reduced to ten players, when Jasbeer SINGH pounced on a loose ball in the circle and push it in goal. With neither team satisfied with a tie, the game opened up and Italy forced a penalty-corner to take the lead with a direct shot by Chiara TIDDI.
Canada pushed desperately in the final minutes to score an equalizer, but Italy sustained the pressure and earned the gain of a game that could have gone either way.
Game 3 – Malaysia v. Ireland: 0-3 (half-time: 0-2)
Ireland set the initial pace of the game and earned an early penalty-corner, saved by Malaysian keeper Ernawati MAHMUD with a stunning stick save. They could have again opened the scoring a few minutes later, but Lisa JACOB’s shot from close range hit the crossbar. Ireland were finally rewarded on their forth penalty-corner when Clare PARKHILL’s direct hit was deflected in goal off the keeper’s pad.
Despite having most of the ball possession, Ireland were prevented from developing their game by a well organized Malaysian team occupying efficiently the midfield. It took another penalty-corner for Ireland to make a break, Eimear CREGAN pushing over the line a ball originally stopped by Ernawati MAHMUD.
Ireland kept dominating the proceedings in the second half, and immediately increased the gap with a superb deflection by Cathy McKEAN over the diving keeper. They created many more opportunities in the half, but somehow the score stayed at 3-0.
The result of this game was never in doubt, with Malaysia only having one scoring opportunity late in the match, but Ireland had to fight hard for their win and won’t be happy with their numerous missed chances.
The WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier continues in Victoria on Sunday when Uruguay meet Italy, Ireland take on host Canada, and Malaysia conclude the day against Korea.
WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier, Women – Victoria, Canada
Results day 1: Saturday 26 April 2008
Korea - Uruguay 10:0 (5:0)
9mn Seon Ok LEE (PC) 1:0
11mn Mi Hyun PARK (FG) 2:0
21mn Sung Hee GIM (FG) 3:0
29mn Jong Eun KIM (PC) 4:0
33mn Mi Hyun PARK (FG) 5:0
41mn Seul Ki CHEON (PC) 6:0
42mn Jin Kyoung KIM (FG) 7:0
48mn Mi Hyun PARK (FG) 8:0
57mn Mi Young EOM (FG) 9:0
63mn Seul Ki CHEON (PC) 10:0
Italy - Canada 2-1 (0:0)
37mn Christine DePAPE (PC) 0:1
50mn Jasbeer SINGH (FG) 1:1
63mn Chiara TIDDI (PC) 2:1
Malaysia - Ireland 0:3 (0:2)
21mn Clare PARKHILL (PC) 0:1
30mn Eimear CREGAN (PC) 0:2
40mn Cathy McKEAN (FG) 0:3
Standings: 1) Korea 3pts 2) Ireland 3pts 3) Italy 3pts 4) Canada 0pt 5) Malaysia 0pt 6) Uruguay 0pt