China’s women continued to show great form as they notched up a third victory at the second mini-tournament of the FIH Hockey Pro League season in Bhubaneswar, India on Wednesday.
The Chinese easily overcame the United States 3-1, while later in the day hosts India were taken down 3-0 by a rapidly improving Australia.
(Women’s) China 3 – 1 USA
China put in an exceptionally disciplined performance and punished the USA from repeated turnovers for a comfortable 3-1 victory. The USA certainly had possession and opportunity, but they lacked patience and ruined their endeavours against the Chinese wall in midfield. China pressed effectively throughout and forced turnovers in good attacking positions, missing a couple of shots before Zou Meirong tapped in a loose ball in the eighth minute after a quickly taken free hit. Dan Wen made it 2-0 before half-time from a deflection, China having turned over USA ball in midfield and punched through the centre channel unchallenged.
The second half was much closer, but the USA couldn’t convert their possession and opportunities into goals, and they continued to give the ball away cheaply. China’s third goal in the 47th minute came from almost identical circumstances to their second, turning the USA over in midfield and pushing through the centre channel for Wen to beat the keeper from her reverse stick. The USA finished the stronger team, winning seven penalty corners in the final quarter before Jacqueline Sumfest finally deflected one in from their 10th of the match for her first international goal.
Player of the match again went to Dan Wen from China who said: “It was challenging for us against the Americans and I was very happy we won that game. I am proud of the team, it was a great effort.”
(Women’s) India 0 – 3 Australia
Australia triumphed 3-0 in a close match against hosts India. The first quarter was evenly contested, but the Australians started to control matters in the second period. The Hockyroos drew first blood off an 80m counterattack in the 19th minute, Grace Stewart getting ahead of her marker for a tap-in at the left post after a series of beautiful passes through the centre channel. Indian goalkeeper Bichu Devi Kharibam then denied the Australians briefly with an excellent acrobatic save, but Tatum Stewart ripped a drag flick home off a penalty corner in the 23rd minute and the Aussies went to half-time leading 2-0.
India looked good going forward in the second half, testing the excellent Jocelyn Bartram in the Australian goal repeatedly but failing to find the score that might have swung the momentum in their favour. The Hockeyroos survived a series of player suspensions and penalty corners and, with a player in the sin bin, Kaitlin Nobbs closed out the scoring from a well-executed one-on-one against Savita in the Indian goal.
Player of the match Tatum Stewart for Australia reflected on a good win against the hosts: “It’s always hard when you’re playing away from home and the home team has such an amazing crowd, but if there’s one thing our team is good at it’s working hard and sticking together so I think we really showed that tonight.”
Top Scorer Armband
To celebrate the talented goal-scorers throughout the season the FIH has introduced the Top Scorer Armband, which is being worn by the leading goal-scorers in the men’s and women’s competitions in the current season, as a visual mark for the fans, and for the players to wear proudly, match after match.
Current Top Scorers:
Women – Yibbi Jansen (NED) (9 goals)
Men – Thierry Brinkman (NED), Tomas Domene (ARG), Sam Ward (GBR), Struan Walker (GBR), Terrance Pieters (2 goals)
To see the current standings in the FIH Hockey Pro League, click here.
FIH Hockey Pro League – 7 February 2024
Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneswar, India (IND)
Result: Match 13 (W)
China 3 – 1 United States
Player of the match: Dan Wen (CHN)
Umpires: Raghu Prasad (IND), Kelly Hudson (NZL), Zeke Newman (AUS-video)
Result: Match 14 (W)
India 0 – 3 Australia
Player of the match: Tatum Stewart (AUS)
Umpires: Xiaoying Liu (CHN), Rawi Anbananthan (MAS), Kelly Hudson (NZL-video)