The Netherlands join Argentina in the ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup final.
The Netherlands join Argentina in the ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup final.
(Photo: FIH / Frank Uijlenbroek)

Argentina were the first team to qualify for Sunday’s ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup final today. The Leoncitas wrestled down England 3-0 while in the other semi-final, the Netherlands also had some difficulty moving past a passionately fighting Indian team but came through eventually with a 3-0 victory. Sunday's final will thus be another instance of what has become the classic rivalry in women's finals in recent years: Argentina versus Netherlands. In Sunday’s Bronze medal match, India will face England.

In the tightly contested 5-8th place play-off matches on Pitch 2, Australia secured a 4-1 win over the USA while Spain snuck past South Africa with a three-goals-in-four-minutes blitz in the secnd half. Further matches today saw Germany make it to the 9th place play-off after defeating Korea 3-2, while Canada dispatched Russia 5-1 to advance into Sunday's match for 13th place.

Semi-final: Argentina v England 3-0 (1-0)

Due to the hot temperatures here in Mönchengladbach, the game was divided in four quarters of 17.5 minutes each. Argentina began the first quarter with great intensity, leading 1-0 after 13 minutes of play. The opening goal came off a penalty corner with Jimena Cedres deflecting the ball into the net. Argentina dominated ball possession throughout the first quarter but did not break through the English defence again.

Play settled in the midfield for much of the second quarter as both teams seemed to struggle with the heat. The Leoncitas doubled their lead in the third quarter when Cedres fired home another penalty corner. Argentina could have added more goals but failed to score from a series of penalty corners at the end of the third quarter. 

The fourth quarter saw England working hard to get on the scoreboard. They forced two early penalty corners but could not capitalize on any of them. With six minutes remaining in the match, the Leoncitas extended their lead to 3-0 when Julia Gomes Fantasia’s penalty corner flick found the net. 

Voices after the match:

Florencia Habif, team captain Argentina: “I’m very happy. The team made a big effort and we are satisfied. Thanks to all parents and friends who came to support us, this is very motivating.”

Shona McCallin, team captain England: “We probably would not have expected to finish in the top four. We have a young team, a great team of fighters and a great team spirit.”

Semi-final: Netherlands v India 3-0 (1-0)

Much of the play took place in midfield in the first half as both sides struggled to create promising scoring opportunities from open play. However, the first penalty corner resulted in a goal for The Netherlands. Tournament top scorer Lieke van Wijk’s drag flick found the net beating India’s goalkeeper Chanu Sanarik Ningombam to put her side ahead.

A few minutes later, the Dutch girls forced another penalty corner which went wide. India had a promising scoring opportunity before halftime when they earned their first penalty corner but could not get the shot away.  

India stepped the pace up after the break and forced their second penalty corner on 41 minutes but to no avail. The crowd witnessed a very competitive second half without many chances in it. When The Netherlands won their third penalty corner, Indian goalie Ningombam made two tremendous saves against van Wijk to keep her team in the game. However, it was Lisanne de Lange doubling the Dutch lead in the 57th minute. 

With six minutes remaining on the clock, Rani had a big opportunity to pull one back but the Dutch goalie Anne Veenendaal parried well. India fought hard to score but the ball did not go in. As time began to run down Lisa Scheerlinck converted a counter-attack securing her team’s 3-0 win.

Voices after the match:

Neil Hawgood, coach India: “We played very, very well today but we got a bit tired in the last ten minutes. We cannot complain, we also had a pretty good defence. Unfortunately we let in a soft goal, this was the 2-0. This match was a good lesson for my players. I think when the girls wake up tomorrow, they will be driven to win the Bronze medal. Playing for Bronze is the best they have done in their life so far.”

Sushila Charu Pukhrambam, Indian captain: “We are disappointed with today’s result. It was very hard to play at these weather conditions. England is a good team but we will try to beat them to win the Bronze medal.”

Rani, Indian player: “We are happy but not satisfied. I hope we will do better tomorrow as there is still the Bronze medal left to play for.”

Lisa Scheerlinck, Dutch player: “In the first half it was a very tied match. India made it difficult for us because they put a lot of pressure on our play. We were very aggressive in the second half and we really wanted to score the second goal. This is what we did. We now face Argentina who are a very technical team. They play very fast and their attacks are extremely good. However, our defence is very strong. I trust in our team.”

5-8th place play-off: USA v Australia 1-4 (0-1)

The sun was still out for the second match of the day, and the unrelenting heat affected the game's pace and the number of unforced errors, with both teams not quite able to produce their A game for long stretches of time.

In the first half, there were slight advantages for the Jillaroos, but play went back and forth with few scenes in the circles. Emily Smith put Australia on the scoreboard halfway through the first half, but the match remained open. Shortly before the break, Anna Flanagan had a prime opportunity to double the lead with a penalty stroke but her low flick crashed into the post.

The first 15 minutes of the second half were much like the first, but the action increased from there, as Nina Khoury sank a penalty corner rebound for Australia's second goal, only to find the USA respond minutes later through Tara Vittese, making the best possible use of their advantage in numbers after a yellow card for Jillaroo Jade Warrender.

Little later, the USA took their goalkeeper off the field to try their luck with eleven field players but faced a penalty corner shortly after which resulted in a penalty stroke. Murphy Allendorf took advantage of the opportunity to increase Australia's lead to two goals, and the US goalkeeper was back for the rest of the match.

A penalty corner after the end of the seventy minutes allowed Anna Flanagan to drive the score up to 4-1, and Australia have thus booked their place in Sunday's match for 5th place, where they will face Spain.

Voices after the match:

Anna Flanagan, Player Australia: "I think we pressed really hard, we wanted to come out and win the game, and we were still isappointed because of the match yesterday. I think we are pretty happy to have gotten the job done. My experience of the tournament is probably the match against England, it was pretty disappointing but the feeling of disappointment makes me feel really motivated to keep trying and to keep getting better. This is what I really take home to motivate me during training back in Australia."

5-8th place play-off: South Africa v Spain 1-3 (0-0)

In the first half, the match between South Africa and Spain was a mostly a face-off between equal opponents. Play went back and forth but neither team was able to gain a significant advantage, and no goals were scored. The persisting heat kept making it difficult for the teams, as it has since yesterday.

Midway through the second half however, things started heating up. Quanita Bobbs got South Africa on the scoreboard with a goal from open play, and just as it started looking like that was going to be it, Spain kicked into gear, scoring three goals in four minutes to pull ahead for good.

A double from Marta Bosque who scored two goals in as many minutes set Spain on track, and Cristina Guinea followed up with a penalty corner conversion, establishing the 3-1 final score. South Africa pushed hard in the dying minutes of the match but could not salvage the encounter.

With this victory, Spain move into Sunday's match for 5th place against Australia, while South Africa will clash with USA for 7th place.

Voices after the match:

Berta Bonastre, Team captain Spain: "We did well in the first half because they didn't score. We are not that good physically, but in the second half, we waited for them and we went for counter-attacks, and we scored three goals. Then we held the result until the end. We are satisfied with playing for fifth place because we did't have much preparation. We trained for five days without friendly matches. We didn't expect to make it into the Top , and now we can make it to fifth place and we definitely deserve it. We can learn from every team in this tournament, and for us it was a tournament in which we tried a new attitude with intensity and teamwork and being in the match all the time."

Quanita Bobbs, Player South Africa: "We are extremely disapponted about this. I think we just didn't play as a team today, we played too individually, we should have passed more and run harder. For the next game, we're South Africans, we can come back from defeats. So I think on Sunday, we will come out strong and hopefully end the tournament on a good note."

9-12th place play-off: Korea v Germany 2-3 (2-3)

Despite the excessive heat here in Mönchengladbach, both teams started strong with early chances coming at both ends. Germany’s first attack led to a goal with only two minutes played. Sabine Knüpfer won possession in midfield and set up Pia Oldhafer who opened the scoring. Korea were close to equalising when Cheon Eun Bi’s attempt was parried well by goalkeeper Lisa Schneider. Shortly after, a penalty corner flick from Lee Hana hit the post before Schneider made another terrific save against Shin Hye Jeong.

Oldhafer added another goal to double Germany’s advantage in the 22nd minute, before Korea were able to get on the board with a reverse stick strike from Cheon Eun Bi. Two minutes later Lee Yuri converted a penalty corner to level the score to 2-2. However, the German C-Unit were able to strike back immediately. Marilena Krauss scored from open play to give Germany a 3-2 lead at halftime. 

The hosts won a series of penalty corners throughout the third quarter but could not capitalize on any of them. The fourth quarter saw Korea fighting for the equalizer but Germany’s goalkeeper Schneider made sure that nothing gets past her. 

Voices after the match:

Marc Herbert, German coach: “We improved a lot compared to yesterday’s match against Russia. We could have scored more goals.”

Sophia Willig, German player: “We were very disappointed after we lost to England. Today, we were highly motivated.”

13-16th place play-off: Canada v Russia 5-1 (2-0)

It was another scorching hot day in Mönchengladbach today, with water breaks for teams splitting the halves into quarters, n the teams visibly struggled with the heat. Canada coped better with the conditions however and was in charge through most of the match, as play remained confined to the Russian half of the field for long stretches of time.

Despite the superiority, the Canadian girls struggled to find the target, and found it hard work to translate their work into goals. Karli Johansen converted a penalty corner and Jessica Buttinger added a goal from open play for a 2-0 halftime advantage that could easily have been a few goals larger.

In the second half, Caashia Karringten put down a hattrick to take Canada safely out of reach, and Russia's lone goal came from a Canadian own goal. It is worth mentioning however that the Russian side was able to get in front of the Canadian goal, coming close to scoring a number of times in the second half.

As it was, the final result was 5-1 for Canada which puts them into Sunday's match for 13th place where they will play the winner of tomorrow's clash between Ghana and Belgium. Russia will play the defeated team from the same match for 15th place on Sunday.

Voices after the match:

Natalie Sourisseau, Team captain Canada: "I think we played well, I think it was really good. We definitely wanted to win this game, and with one game left, thi is the last time we play together. We want to do our best. It was a big learning experience for us. We've learnt a lot about international competition."

Caashia Karringten, Player Canada (scored a hattrick today): "It wasn't important for me, it was important for the team. It was a good game for us, with high pressure and nice goals. We're looking forward to playing Belgium, because we've played them before. They are a very good team, and we want to have good competition."