India won their first-ever medal in women’s Junior World Cup history. The Indian girls take home the Bronze medal with a 3-2 shoot-out victory over England at the ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup in Mönchengladbach. The winning goal was scored by 17-year-old Navneet Kaur. Korea was the stronger team in the match for 11th place against China and took an easy 4-0 win.
Bronze medal match: India v England 1-1 (1-0), 3-2 PSO
The Bronze medal match started off with an early penalty corner to England but Grace Balsdon’s shot was deflected before reaching India’s goalkeeper Chanu Sanarik Ningombam. The English girls kept pushing for the opening goal but it were India who would get on the scoreboard first. A counter-attack saw Rani powerfully strike home after 13 minutes of play. A few minutes later, India failed to double their lead from a penalty corner variation. The Indian girls slowly took control of the match, but were unable to break the English defence. The halftime score stood at 1-0.
England entered the second half with a different attitude. They stepped up the pace and pressed for the equaliser and eventually got it through Anna Toman by shooting on target in a crowded circle. Both teams kept going and went for the winning goal but ran out of time. As the result remained tied 1-1 after 70 minutes of play, the Bronze medal match was decided in a penalty shoot-out competition.
India substituted their goalkeepers replacing Ningombam by Bigan Soy who has not played a single minute in this tournament so far. Only 5 of 14 attempts were successful in the shoot-out competition with Rani scoring twice and Navneet Kaur scoring for India and Emily Defroand converting twice for England.
Voices after the match:
Neil Hawgood, coach India: “It means a lot to our kids’ psychology that they can actually win a medal. They have never been in those games before. We practiced shoot-outs, so I thought we would score more than three out of seven. Our goalkeeper Bigan Soy, who never played a minute the whole tournament, did a great job. It was clear, when it comes down to shoot-outs, she will be in the goal.”
Rani, Indian player: “We are so happy and we have to thank our goalkeeper Bigan Soy who did very well in the shoot-outs. We were mentally prepared for shoot-outs which was good. This is our first-ever medal in a Junior World Cup, now we will celebrate!”
Bigan Soy, Indian goalkeeper during shoot-outs: “I did my very best and it’s a good feeling to know that I saved my team. I’m very happy. It now feels as I would have played the whole tournament.”
Navneet Kaur, scorer of the winning goal: “This is my first Junior World Cup and my first medal, I’m so happy. It was tough to take a second penalty after I didn’t score from the first. I knew that I need to get the goalkeeper to dive and then I can score. This is what I did.”
Placement 11-12: Korea v China 4-0 (2-0)
Two early goals by Kim Hyun Ji and Kang Jina had Korea two goals ahead by the ninth minute. Following this early blitz however, China held Korea at the 2-0 scoreline for the remainder of the first half, spite the fact that Korea were the stronger team and had a bigger share of possession and the better opportunities.
In the second half, an early goal from Cheon Eun Bi and Kang Jina's second of the day bookended an otherwise uneventful half of back and forth with few opportunities at either end. China tried to get a goal back, especially towards the end of the match, but the girls could not make their efforts count, and Korea came out of the match on top with a 4-0 win.
With this in, Korea take 11th place, and China finish 12th, which for both teams is below their current world ranking - China is 7th in the world at this point in time, and Korea is 8th.
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