Melissa Gonzalez attempts to get a shot in against Ireland
Melissa Gonzalez attempts to get a shot in against Ireland
(Photo: Adrian Boehm)

Semi-Finals: Ireland - USA 1-2 (half time: 1-0)

Lauren Pfeiffer finally put her side’s penalty corner mishaps behind the US as she dragged home the winning goal with 11 minutes to go, breaking Irish hopes of reaching the Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge I final on home turf. It came from the tenth corner the US had earned and helped them come from a goal down at half-time against the Irish for the second time in four days.

Lisa Jacob had given the Irish a dream start when she slid onto Michelle Harvey’s disguised corner push in the third minute off the back of Anna O’Flanagan’s good work. From there, the US fought back with gusto as the triangle of Katie O’Donnell, Pfeiffer and Shannon Taylor created plenty of chances that their corner team could not finish off. They did gain parity early in the second half as Katelyn Falgowski found Pfeiffer racing clear down the left wing. She picked out the on-rushing O’Donnell who slid in for a simple finish.

Ireland lived on the counter and showed flashes of danger but the US had the clearer chances and eventually moved ahead with a neat move to the left and Pfeiffer picked out the opposite corner. Alex Speers had a fleeting view of goal but Jackie Kintzer smothered five minutes from time to leave Ireland fighting with Scotland for third place while USA contest Sunday’s final against Australia.

 

Australia – Scotland 2-0 (half time 0-0)

Scotland put up a good fight, but in the end, top-ranked Australia was simply too much for the Scots to overcome as two late penalty corner goals pushed the Hockeyroos onto a 2-0 win and into the Electric Ireland Champions Challenge 1 final.

Australia entered the tournament as the favorites to earn the promotion to the Champions Trophy and lived up to expectations in the preliminary round with a perfect record. But the Hockeyroos sputtered a bit in the quarterfinal, narrowly nipping the South Africans in a tight 2-1 affair. Today, the Aussies had their hands full again, having to settle for a 0-0 deadlock at the half.

The game stayed scoreless until Jodie Schulz scored cleanly on a penalty corner with 18 minutes left in regulation. Anna Flannagan doubled the lead four minutes later after going top shelf on another short corner chance. The goals saved the day for the Hockeyroos and was just enough for them to earn the first spot in Sunday’s final game.

Australia will play the winner of the second semi-final between Ireland and USA. Scotland will meet the loser of that game in the bronze medal match.

 

Fifth-Eighth place playoffs: Belgium - Wales 8-0 (halftime: 3-0)

Belgium comprehensively saw off Wales to take up their place in the fifth position playoff against South Africa. They were well clear at half-time, Emilie Sinia giving them an early advantage from Jill Boon’s assist. Two corner goals, the first from Stefanie de Groof’s second phase sweep and the other via Pauline Leclef’s sharp rebound, saw the world number 14 side three to the good at the break.

And the Belgians piled on the misery in the second half as Louise Versavel’s cross was turned in by a Welsh defender for an own goal soon after the interval. De Groof added her second from a corner, taking the direct route to goal, before Sinia also scored her second for three goals in seven minutes. Alix Gerniers bullied one over the line for numbers seven and eight.

 

South Africa – India 3-2 after golden goal (halftime: 2-1)

Izelle Lategan was South Africa’s golden girl as her brilliant third strike of the day assured her side a place in the fifth place play-off at the Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge I, condemning India to the seventh place playoff. South Africa got off to a flying start with Izelle Lategan popping in her first in the fifth minute when she finished off a penalty corner move at the right post, guiding in Tarryn Bright’s sweep shot.

And Lategan followed up a minute later when she got to the ball ahead of goalkeeper Savita. Her first touch nicked the ball clear and she had the simplest of touches to roll into the open goal. From there, India became more effective, effecting numerous turnovers and got their reward in the 23rd minute, Ritu Rani scoring from the corner injector’s position.

And while India held sway for most of the second period, an equaliser looked beyond them until Anupa Barla fired home a brilliant reverse-stick effort from the top right of the circle with three minutes to go, making it 2-2 and sending the game to extra-time. But just 81 seconds into golden goal, Bernadette Coston found a sweet long ball to Lategan and she did well to pull onto her reverse and rocket into the top corner.