Korea fought hard to dispatch Italy (5-0), while Ireland struggled to beat Uruguay (1-0) and Canada earned their first points against Malaysia (1-0). Korea and Ireland are still unbeaten at the Olympic Qualifier in Victoria.
Game 7 – Ireland v. Uruguay: 1-0 (half-time: 1-0)
Ireland went in the first game of the day with the momentum of winning their initial two matches in this competition and immediately took control of the play, pressuring Uruguay but only generating one good scoring chance on a penalty-corner. Uruguay maintained a well regrouped defensive structure, and were close to score when Virginia CASABO ran the whole length of the pitch but her powerful reverse stick drive when just wide.
Ireland finally opened the scoring on their forth penalty-corner with a low flick by Nikki SYMMONS on the left post, but were denied time after time by a composed Uruguayan defense well backed by Paula PEREZ in goal. Going into the break, Ireland only had a meager lead of one goal to show for their large domination.
The same pattern continued into the second half, with play confined in one half of the field, Ireland relentlessly building attacks and Uruguay consistently pushing them back. Ireland were certainly not playing with the same intensity they displayed against Canada on Sunday, and were unlucky on occasions, hitting twice the post. They pocketed the 3 points of the win to keep them on course for a spot in the Final on Sunday, but will need to be more efficient with their goal scoring when they meet the other top teams in this competition, Korea and Italy.
Uruguay on the other hand, although still chasing their first goal and first point, can be happy with the performance of their young team, improving from one game to the next and faring well today against a team much higher in the world rankings.
Game 8 – Korea v. Italy: 5-0 (half-time: 1-0)
Korea did not waste any time to stake their claim on the match, scoring in the first minute of play when Jong Eun KIM pushed in goal a rebound from the initial shot by Jin Kyoung KIM. Italy regrouped well and effectively absorbed the Korean pressure for a while, before mounting some dangerous attacks of their own. They had two good chances on a penalty-corner, well saved by veteran goal-keeper Ju Young LIM, then on a strong shot by Francesca FAUSTINI after a fast penetrating run.
The game became well balanced, flowing back and forth and keeping the crowd well entertained. The Italians defenders were matching the speed of the Koreans forwards and spoiling numerous of their chances before they reached the circle, with an inspired Paula CALVO in goal to clean-up the loose ends in deep defense.
The one goal difference obviously did not satisfy the Koreans and Mi Hyun PARK was prompt to increase the lead early in the second period with a great shot high and out of reach of the keeper. Mi Hyun PARK doubled her tally a few minutes later to conclude a superb Korean movement that found Jong Eun KIM deep behind the Italian defense. With the score slipping away and fatigue showing up, the Italian defense became stretched and Korea scored two more goals.
Korea and Ireland are now together at the top of the points table, with the maximum possible of 9 points, but Italy can be satisfied of their performance today and showed that their encounter with Ireland on Saturday will be a fierce battle for a spot in the Final.
Game 9 – Canada v. Malaysia: 1-0 (half-time: 0-0)
In the last game of the day, Canada was looking to rebound from their two losses against Italy and Ireland. They were encouraged by the local crowd, courageously filling the stands despite the cold wind, and controlled the opening stages but once again failed to convert their chances, including 3 penalty-corners in the first ten minutes of play.
Malaysia stayed composed and weathered the initial Canadian push, then started to take more chances up field and forced veteran Canadian keeper Sarah FORBES into action. Canada tried hard, did most of the running and gave plenty of chances to the local fans to shout their hope, but the match went into the break scoreless.
Canada finally opened their tally in the 38th minute when Katie RUSHTON collected a ball lost by the Malaysian defense and slotted it out of reach of Ernawati MAHMUD in the Malaysian goal. While the crowd was expecting Canada to immediately take advantage of their momentum, it was Malaysia who then had the next scoring chances with a well taken penalty-corner and a shot from the top of the circle that was barely saved by Sarah FORBES.
Neither team could take control of play, or keep the ball for long enough to build a consistent challenge. Malaysia was helped by stellar goaltending by Ernawati MAHMUD, but Canada was satisfied with the narrow victory that kept them on course for a spot in the Bronze Medal game
Korea and Ireland are now at the top of table with a maximum 9 points out of their first three games, with Italy still in the chase for a berth in the Final on Sunday. Canada have now 3 points while Malaysia and Uruguay are still looking for their first point (and first goal) of the competition.
The WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier continues on Thursday in Victoria when Korea meet Ireland, Italy take on Malaysia, and Uruguay conclude the day against host Canada.
WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier, Women – Victoria, Canada
Results day 3: Tuesday 29 April 2008
Ireland - Uruguay 1:0 (1:0)
26mn Nikki SYMMONS (PC) 1:0
Korea - Italy 5:0 (1:0)
1mn Jong Eun KIM (FG) 1:0
38mn Mi Hyun PARK (FG) 2:0
45mn Mi Hyun PARK (FG) 3:0
51mn Jong Eun KIM (FG) 4:0
64mn Seul Ki CHEON (PC) 5:0
Canada - Malaysia 1:0 (0:0)
37mn Katie RUSHTON (FG) 1:0
Standings: 1) Korea 9pts 2) Ireland 9pts 3) Italy 6pts 4) Canada 3pts 5) Malaysia 0pt 6) Uruguay 0pt
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