The Hockeyroos came close to pulling off an impressive comeback against reigning world champions Argentina, coming back from 3-0 down to fall short at 3-2 in Canberra in Game One of the four-game test series.
Despite the loss, the Hockeyroos gained valuable experience against the world number 1 team, exposing four more debutants in Jacklyn McRae, Hollie Webster, Sally O’Toole and Elizabeth Duguid against world class players.In the Hockeyroos first match in Australia for 2011, they almost made the perfect start when they were awarded a penalty corner in the opening minute. However the shot from Jodie Schulz was saved by the Argentinian goalkeeper.
Despite holding their own against Argentina, the crisp passing and ball control by Argentina created several opportunities, and put the Hockeyroos' defence under some pressure.
This created issued for Duguid in goal, who was confronted with some of the world’s greatest attacking players in her first game.
She looked settled, but eventually Argentina found their way onto the scoreboard at the seven-minute mark to take the lead.
Argentina looked certain to score again only minutes later when a great pass from Sofia Maccari found Rocio Sanchez Moccia alone in the circle, but a great attack from Duguid in goals stopped any possible shot.
Argentina was particularly dangerous near goal, scoring from both of their penalty corner attempts to take a commanding 3-0 lead at the 27 minute mark.
The lead could have been even more after Rosario Luchetti found the ball in the circle and beat Duguid, only for the ball to slam into the goal post.
Despite trailing heavily on the scoreboard the Hockeyroos remained competitive, and continued to attack.
They were given a significant amount of momentum when Jodie Schulz scored Australia’s first goal from her third penalty corner attempt from the one play at the 32 minute mark to give the Hockeyroos some chance leading into the half time break.
Argentina started the second half well but it was Australia who had the first real goal attempt of the half with a pass in the circle to striker Ashleigh Nelson beating the Argentina defence but the deflection sailed just left of the goal.
With neither team able to make any inroads onto the scoreboard as the half progressed Argentina looked certain to hang onto their lead. However a late surge by the Hockeyroos in the final ten minutes put Argentina under legitimate pressure.
After several attempts near the circle a great piece of individual play by Kellie White resulted in a slick pass to Jade Close, who made no mistake with her shot to give the Hockeyroos some hope with nine minutes remaining.
Demonstrating their fitness, the Hockeyroos were well in command in the dying stages, and an equalising goal seemed a legitimate chance.
However despite some good attempts, they were denied by the Argentina defence with the final score remaining 3-2.
Despite the loss the experience of the young Australian team facing the reigning world champions will prove invaluable, with coach Adam Commens saying he expects further improvement as the series continues.
The Hockeyroos will next play Argentina in Canberra on Tuesday 5th before moving the series to Sydney on Friday 8 April.
Argentina 3 Hockeyroos 2 (3-1 half time)
Goals – Arg Daniele Sanche Moccia, Arg Delfina Merino 13m PC, Arg Maria D’elia 23m PC, Aus Jodie Schulz 32m PC, Aus Jade Close 61m FG
Source: Hockey Australia Press Release
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