Spain walked away with a narrow 1-0 win against Australia in the 5th place play-off match at the ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup in Mönchengladbach. Spain have thus reached the top five four the first time in Junior World Cup history. In the match for 13th place, Belgium got the better of Canada in another shoot-out on Pitch 2.
Placement 5-6: Spain v Australia 1-0 (1-0)
The Jillaroos entered the pitch with passion and went after a quick goal. They forced three early penalty corners but could not capitalize on any of them. Australia were the dominant side early in the game but failed to put something on the scoreboard. But the Spanish goalkepper Mariona Girabent made outstanding saves against Anna Flanagan and crew, securing that nothing gets past her. However, it were Spain who opened the scoring against the run of play. Their first penalty corner was superbly converted by Cristina Guinea to put her team ahead. The two teams then battled the rest of the first half without scoring.
Australia forced another penalty corner at the beginning of the second half. The flick was taken by the FIH Young Player of the Year, Anna Flanagan, but fantastically saved by goalie Girabent. The Jillaroos kept control of the match with good passing play but simply did not score. The Spanish defence stood firm holding the strikers outside the circle. Like in their quarter-final, which they lost 1-0 to England, Australia dominated play but did not tie the game.
With ten minutes remaining on the clock, a good counter-attack almost led to a second goal for Spain but Carola Salvatella could not beat Audrey Smith in the Australian goal. Shortly after, Marta Bosque forced a penalty stroke for Spain after she was fouled by goalie Smith. The stroke was poorly taken by captain Berta Bonastre and stopped by the goalkeeper. Australia had one last opportunity to equalise when they forced a penalty corner in the last minute of the match but Flanagan’s attempt was blocked.
Placement 13-14: Canada v Belgium 1-1 (1-1) 1-2 PSO
In the match for 13th place, Canada had advantages in the first half, including a number of penalty corners, but between some complicated variations and some good Belgian defending, their attempts were all futile. A goal against the run of play from Pauline Leclef got Belgium ahead late in the first half, but within less than a miute, Canada caught up with a goal from open play by Priya Randhawa.
The teams headed into halftime at 1-1, and after the break, there was 35 minutes of back and forth between two equal contenders. Neither team could create much danger, there were few scenes in or around the circles, and when the final whistle sounded, the second shoot-out on Pitch 2 today was needed to separate the teams.
In the shoot-out, Belgium was the more efficient side, scoring twice from the first series of five attackers, while Canada could only manage one goal. Belgium thus take 13th place in the tournament, a good result for this very young team. Canada finish 14th amongst the 16 participants in the Women's ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup.
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