New Zealand celebrated a deserved 4-1 victory over China to qualify for the 9th place play-off match at the Women’s ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup in Mönchengladbach. The Junior Black Sticks will now face host nation Germany, while China join Korea in the 11th/12th classification match. Earlier, Belgium had defeated Ghana 4-3 on penalties to join Canada in the 13th/14th place play-off match. Ghana will take on Russia in the 15th/16th classification.
9-12 Placement: China v New Zealand 1-4 (0-2)
New Zealand started into the first half with real fire. They had various good chances early on but could not score from them. The Junior Black Sticks also forced five penalty corners but none of them were productive. New Zealand eventually took the deserved lead on 25 minutes when Julia King scored from open play. Her team doubled the score one minute later after another penalty corner. The ball finally came to Sian Fremaux who smashed it into the goal. New Zealand completely dominated the first half and could have easily led with a bigger margin than 2-0.
The Junior Black Sticks kept up their pace for the entire game. With 20 minutes remaining on the clock, Philippa Symes got her name on the scoresheet to give New Zealand a convincing 3-0 lead. Shortly after, Rose Keddell scored from another penalty corner extending the lead to 4-0. The young Chinese girls struggled to keep up with the bigger and stronger Junior Black Sticks, but they fought hard despite the score. China were able to pull one back when Lui Yuyue’s penalty corner shot was deflected by a defender.
Voices after the match:
Chris Leslie, coach New Zealand: “We are really excited to play Germany, it will be a hard competition. I’m sure they want to win the game as much as we want to win it. Our motivation is to finish ninth.”
Jennifer Story, team-captain New Zealand: “I think we definitely improved but we would have deserved to be in the top eight. We have had a few disappointments along the way. It will be tough playing Germany with their home crowd but we will show our best. I know that there will be a lot of German fans tomorrow but our Kiwi fans will do as well.”
13-16 Placement: Ghana v Belgium 1-1 (1-1), 3-4 PSO
The beginning of the match saw Ghana coming up with two counter-attacks, driven by Elizabeth Opoku. However, the Belgian goalkeeper Elena Sotgiu made sure that nothing gets past her. Belgium took control of the game midway through the first half forcing five penalty corners in quick succession. Four of them failed until the Red Cheetahs finally capitalized thanks to Pauline Leclef. Ghana struck back seconds before halftime through Queensilla Shaibu who converted the rebound of Ghana’s first penalty corner shot to level the score to 1-1.
After the break Ghana’s goalkeeper Joana Adjei prevented Belgium from taking the 2-1 lead with an outstanding save against Silke Steenackers. The Red Cheetahs were close to scoring again when a penalty corner shot was blocked by Janet Adampa. Belgium went for the winning goal but Ghana’s defence stood strong.
As the score remained tied at 1-1 after 70 minutes of play, the game was decided in a penalty shoot-out competition. The winning goal was scored by Belgium’s Silke Steenackers who converted the 12th attempt securing Belgium's first win in this tournament.
Voices after the match:
Silke Steenackers, Belgium: “The first victory feels really good. Tomorrow we want to win again, we don’t want to finish 14th. We just need to believe in us. We are a very young team, so we are still growing and raise our level game by game.”
Malou Blank, goalkeeper Belgium: “We had big pressure until the end and it was very hard. We are very proud now. Tomorrow we want to beat Canada, we will give everything to finish this tournament with a win.”
Edmund Odametey, coach Ghana: “We played a couple of shoot-outs before, so we have a bit of experience. It was a great experience for the girls. Although we lost a lot of games here, I can see a lot of improvement in our game.”
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