Belgium 1, Ireland 1
If today’s game is any indication, the ticket to the London 2012 Games is completely up for grabs after the Belgium vs. Ireland game ended in a 1-1 draw in the last day of round robin action at the Athlon Car Lease FIH Road to London tournament.
Despite there being virtually nothing on the line, the teams played a fairly intense match in front of a near sell-out crowd in Kontich. Of course, nothing will be able to compare to what awaits the squads on Sunday when they meet in the winner-takes-all final for a ticket to the London Games.
Jill Boon gave Belgium the early advantage when she easily converted a penalty stroke nine minutes into the game. But Ireland events things up with 12 minutes left in the half when Chloe Watkins tapped in the equalizer.
Belgium emerged as the stronger team in the second half and set the pace and tone, but could not put in the go-ahead goal as the teams had to settle for the draw.
With today’s draw, Belgium has earned the first place in the round robin group thanks to a stronger goal difference and will be the home team in Sunday’s final. Only the winner of that game will earn a berth to the London 2012 Games as the 11th of 12 games qualified. The final women’s team will be determined at the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan on May 5th.
Spain 1, Russia 1
Spain and Russia gave nothing away for tomorrow’s bronze medal game as they played cat and mouse in a 1-1 draw on the last day of round robbing action in Kontich.
The scoring chances were few and far between until the last five minutes of the game when both squads turned on the gas to go for the win. But neither team could get the go-ahead marker as the effort was too little too late from both sides.
Spain took the early 1-0 lead on a thrifty, bait and switch short corner marker when Rocio Ybarra swept in after the initial fake a powered in the goal. Russia had virtually no offensive chances in the Spain-dominated half, but took advantage of its only short corner chance with two minutes left when Kristina Shumilina put in the equalizer.
The 1-1 tie stood through the tepid second half setting up tomorrow’s third-place showdown between the #11 Spanish and #21 Russians.
France 5, Mexico 4
In a warm-up for tomorrow’s fifth-place game at the Althon Car Lease Road to London Tournament, Mexico and France put on a scoring festival, combining for nine goals. In the end, France earned the home team advantage tomorrow with the 5-4 victory thanks to a short corner goal from Elisa Prenery in the last two minutes of regulation.
France had scored four goals in the entire event, while Mexico had put in just one, but today was an entirely different story as the scoreboard read a whopping 3-2 at the half. Mexico got on the board first, holding its first lead of the tournament when Ahidee Castillo scored. France countered and took the 2-1 lead with markers from Perinne Roger and Philippine Berny. Another goal exchange brought the halftime score to 3-2.
The Mexicans had a strong start to the second half and actually re-took the lead with 20 minutes left in the game with a 4-3 advantage. But the fatigue of five high-level games in one week has clearly taken its toll on Mexico, which couldn’t keep up with the French in late in the game. Ultimately, sloppy play in the circle, gave the French numerous short corner chances which they finally managed to take advantage of, including the late goal for the 5-4 win.
The teams will meet again in tomorrow’s fifth-place game where Mexico will look for its first point of the event, while the French will hope to come out even with their initial fifth-place seeding they had entering the tournament.
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