Ukraine upset the FIH Hero World Rankings by claiming a first place finish at the women’s Hockey Series Open competition in Vilnius, Lithuania, winning all four of their matches in the five-nation round-robin event to secure a safe passage through to the next phase of the competition.
The 100 percent winning streak ensured that the 27th-ranked Ukrainians finished at the top of the standings with 12 points, ahead of two higher-ranked nations in the shape of Czech Republic and Wales, who currently sit 19th and 26th in the rankings, respectively.
It was a terrific result for the side captained by veteran star Yana Vorushylo, who guided Ukraine to wins over Lithuania (2-0), Wales (1-0), and Turkey (5-1) before claiming a crucial 1-0 triumph over Czech Republic thanks to a late penalty corner strike from Olha Honcharenko to earn a fully deserved competition victory.
Ukraine will be joined in the next phase of competition by second placed Czech Republic and Wales, who finished third. Twenty-one year old Katerina Jelinkova was in sparkling form for the Czech Republic, scoring four times in four matches (three penalty corners, one field goal) as her team finished with two wins from four matches, claiming second place ahead of Wales on goal difference.
The meeting between the two sides saw Wales claim a superb 3-0 victory with Joanne Westwood, Phoebe Richards and Beth Bingham all on target, but a 3-1 loss at the hands of host nation Lithuania on the final day of competition ended Welsh hopes of finishing second in the standings.
Lithuania (WR:36) finished fourth in the table having earned four points from their four matches, with early defeats against the in-form Ukraine and Czech Republic (4-2) certainly not helping their cause before earning a 0-0 draw against higher-ranked Turkey (WR:33) - who finished bottom of the table - ahead of their fine victory over Wales.
The event in Vilnius took place from 21-26 August, pitting some of Europe’s up-and-coming nations against each other as a numerous nations begin their journey towards possible qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The top three placed teams from Vilnius have all qualified for one of three Hockey Series Finals events, which will be played in 2019.
Each of these Hockey Series Finals events will consist of eight teams and will take place throughout the world, with berths into the Olympic Qualification Events up for grabs.
The next Hockey Series Open event will take place in Gniezno, Poland from 28 August to 2nd September and will feature the men of Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania and Cyprus all in action.
For detailed information about the Hockey Series and Olympic Qualification, visit the on the FIH website.
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