South Africa, badly missing Pietie Coetzee, only drew with Italy, 1-1, despite more than a dozen penalty-corners. Ukraine took three points for their 5-2 win over a struggling Canadian team. India had a hard time against Poland, finally winning 3-0 to join South Africa at the top of the table with seven points.
Canada vs. Ukraine: 2-5 (half-time: 1-2)
Both teams started the game with only one point, earned on opening day, Ukraine with a surprise1-1 tie with India and Canada against Italy, 2-2. The Canadians started the game on high note, Kate Gillis scored within two minutes from close range. Ukraine immediately forced two penalty-corners but both were shot wide. They were more successful a few minutes later by Maryna Khilko, penetrating the top of the circle and leaving no chance to the goal-keeper.
The Canadian defense had trouble settling down, missing stalwart defender Diana Roemer, left out of the lineup after a blow to the head suffered against India. They were saved on a penalty-corner by a stunning flying save by Azelia Liu in the Canadian goal, but she had no chance a few minutes later when Khilko was left alone on the penalty-stroke point in the 28th minute, giving Ukraine a 2-1 lead going into half-time.
Ukraine scored three goals within the first ten minutes of the second period, including a third one for Khilko, opening an insurmountable four-goal lead. The Canadians nevertheless tried hard to come back, scoring once by young Maddie Secco. They kept pushing for more goals, but the Ukrainian team just needed to tighten their defense to pocket the three points of a comfortable 5-2 win.
Player of the Match was Maryna Vynohradova, of Ukraine.
In this match, Kate Thompson earned her first International Cap for Canada.
For more information on CAN v UKR, click here.
Italy vs. South Africa: 1-1 (half-time: 1-0)
Italy did not waste any time to get on the score sheet, surprising South Africa with a direct shot by Alessia Doriana Padalino on its first penalty-corner. South Africa had a penalty-corner of their own shortly after, but their complicated effort did not go anywhere.
South Africa was circulating the ball well in midfield but could not penetrate a steady and well regrouped Italian defense. They earned a large number of penalty-corners but, with ace-striker Pietie Coetzee not in the line-up for this game, South Africa could not seriously threaten the Italian goal-keeper on any of them and half-time was reached with the lone Italian goal.
South Africa was again unsuccessful on yet another penalty-corner early in second period and it is finally Lauren Penny who scored from the field in the 40th minute to tie the score at 1-1. The top-ranked South Africans were however not dominating the proceedings, scrambling many penalty-corners along the way and hitting the post once. South Africa had to play the final minutes of the match one player down and Italy took advantage of the opportunity to force a penalty-corner. It was replayed three times, but to no avail and the match ended in a 1-1 draw, exposing the dependence of the South African squad on the scoring ability of Coetzee.
Player of the Match was Roberta Lilliu, goal-keeper of Italy.
For more information on ITA v RSA, click here.
Poland vs. India: 0-3 (half-time: 0-1)
The match between host India (on a roll after their win 4-1 against Canada) and Poland (still chasing its first point) started in a warm ambiance in Delhi. The local crowd loudly encouraged every move of their team, but the Indian women committed unforced errors at the beginning of the match and the first serious chance was for Magdalena Zagajska of Poland, diving to deflect a ball that went just inches wide of the Indian goal.
This was the wake-up call the Indians needed and Ritu Rani scored on the next attack, left with an easy tap-in after a wonderful counter-attack that ended with two Indian forwards alone in front of Dominika Nowicka in the Polish goal. The fast Indian players were often outrunning their opponents, but Poland maintained its structure and, despite some narrow escapes, reached half-time with only a 1-0 deficit.
The Indians managed to fine tune their finish at the beginning of second period, and scored early to build a more comfortable two-goal cushion. Poland was, however, far from defeated and was dangerous on a series of penalty-corner, but could not capitalize on the opportunities. Yogita Bali was having a good evening in the Indian goal and deflected some hot situations in front of her.
India scored its third goal late in the game by Poonam Rani and survived a last second penalty-corner, for a final score of 3-0. India finished the day at the top of the standings with the same number of points as South Africa (both teams with two wins and a draw).
Player of the Match was Deepika Thakur of India.
For more information on POL v IND, click here.
Schedule for Wednesday February 22:
10h00: Ukraine vs. Italy
14h00: Canada vs. Poland
18h00: India vs. South Africa
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