Ireland - United States 1-3 (halftime: 1-0)
USA prodcued their second come-from-behind win in two outings to top Pool B of the Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge I as they bounced back from a 1-0 half-time deficit to beat hosts Ireland in the final game of the day
Niamh Atcheler’s neat penalty corner touch had the hosts in the ascendancy after just six minutes. But a host of corners chances at both ends – there were 19 in total on the night – meant it was never likely to be the end of the scoring.
Shannon Taylor levelled matters with 20 minutes to go, a perfectly executed touch to Lauren Pfeiffer’s angled drive. And the creator turned scorer when she got a similarly deft stick to Katie O’Donnell’s cross. Katie Mullan thumped home for Ireland but her effort was chalked off due to a prior foot and the US closed out the tie much stronger with skipper Lauren Crandall copper-fastening the win two minutes from the end.
Ireland must now face Belgium in the quarters, the side who beat them to Olympic qualification last March, as USA topped the group and earned a date against tournament low-rank Wales. Scotland finished Pool B in second and will now play India while Australia face South Africa in an enticing tie.
South Africa - Scotland 0-0
South Africa lost the Pool B lottery to avoid Australia as a quarterfinal opponent after playing to a 0-0 draw against Scotland today in the final day of Round Robin action. The tie means that the South Africans finish last in the group and will face the 7th-ranked Hockeyroos in Thursday’s quarterfinal – something they surely wanted to avoid.
It was a soggy game for the teams as the skies opened during the anthems. The rain didn’t let up until the last 15 minutes of the game, which coincidentally, or not, was when the teams produced their best chances of the match. Until then, the play was slow and tentative as both squads seemed to be playing not to lose.
In the last 15 minutes both teams missed a handful of penalty corner chances as the ball continually evaded the net.
Scotland must now await the outcome of the USA vs. Ireland game to determine its fate. With five points in three games, the Scots can finish as high as first place or as low as third place.
Australia - Wales: 4-0 (halftime 1-0)
Australia completed its sweep of Pool A with a clear cut 4-0 win over Wales today. It was a David vs. Goliath match-up with the sixth-ranked, undefeated Hockeyroos the clear favorite against 27th-ranked Welsh, but Wales did a good job of keeping the score respectable.
It looked early on like Australia would romp the Welsh when they scored on their first trip down the field just 45 seconds into action. Emily Hurtz netted the goal and ended up with a hat trick in the win. Australia was awarded another handful of penalty corner chances, but they were well-defended by Wales and the Aussies had to settle for a slim 1-0 lead at the break.
The Hockeyroos doubled their lead when Anna Flannagan crossed a perfect pass to the waiting Emily Smith three minutes into the second half. The scoreboard stayed stuck at 2-0 until the last two minutes of play when Hurtz sprung into action with a pair of goals coming just over a minute apart, including a penalty corner marker at the buzzer to bring the final to 4-0.
Australia entered the Champions Challenge 1 on a mission to get back to the Champions Trophy , and so far everything has gone according plan as they are undefeated in pool play with a goal difference of +14 and will face the lowest-ranked team from Pool B in Thursday’s quarterfinal.
Belgium - India: 3-2 (halftime: 1-2)
Belgium saved its best work for the last 10 minutes in its game against India as a late comeback saved a 3-2 win for the Belgians and slid them into second place in Pool A at the Electric Ireland Champions Challenge 1 in Dublin.
Alix Gerniers scored with 45 seconds left in regulation to cap the comeback and leave the Indians shell shocked. India had things well in hand in the first half, owning a 2-1 lead through much of the first 35 minutes. Roseline Dungdung scored an early goal for India and in the 14th minute Belgium helped the India cause with an own goal.
But Belgium’s Erica Coppey gave her team a small spark before the break, putting in the 2-1 goal. The 2-1 score stood through much of the second half, but it was clear that Belgium was wearing the Indians down as the play shifted into the Indian zone and the Belgians peppered the Indian net.
The equalizer came with seven minutes left when Stephanie De Groof fired in the 2-2 goal. The tie still would have been enough for Belgium to secure second place in the pool, but Gerniers had other plans when she netted the game-winner in the last minute, giving Belgium six points in their group.
India still has to await the outcome of the South Africa vs. Wales game, but if all goes according to the script, the Indians will finish in third place in the pool.
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