Korea are now mathematically qualified for the Final after their win against Ireland (5-1), while Italy will bitterly regret all their missed chances against Malaysia (0-0). Canada redeemed themselves with a decisive win over Uruguay (5-0).
Game 10 – Korea v. Ireland: 5-1 (half-time: 3-1)
The first game of the day started with a freezing wind blowing across the field, however the atmosphere was kept very warm by a large Korean contingent beating relentlessly on drums. Korea had a few early chances but Ireland reacted boldly, forcing the first penalty-corner of the match. Nikki SYMMONS slotted her drag flick low out of reach of Ju Young LIM in net, scoring the first goal against the Korean in this competition.
The Korean reaction was immediate and Mi Seon KIM received the ball in a crowded circle but still managed to fire a powerful reverse stick shot to beat Louisa HEALY and tie the score. The game turned into a wide open affair, switching quickly from one end to the other. Korea took the lead in the 21st minute, when Hye Jin SEO managed to push over the line a ball bouncing in front of the keeper after a deflection. They kept attacking relentlessly and added a third goal on penalty-corner to reach the break with a comfortable lead despite their initial scare.
The pace slowed in the second half, with Korea containing the Irish attacks and taking every opportunity to take the danger to the other side. It nevertheless took them another penalty-corner to increase their tally, Hye Jin SEO slotting the rebound high over the keeper who made the initial save. With the final result not in doubt any more, the Irish defense let down its guard and conceded another goal by Mi Young EOM after a superb attacking move that went the whole length of the field.
Korea are now mathematically qualified for the Final and have made a powerful demonstration of their potential against a team that could again be their opponent on Sunday. Ireland have boldly taken their chances against a higher ranked team, scoring the only goal against the seasoned Korean defense, but they seemed short on options later in the game.
Game 11 – Italy v. Malaysia: 0-0 (half-time: 0-0)
Italy needed a win in the second match of the day to keep alive their hope of making the Final on Sunday, while Malaysia were still trying to register their first point and first goal of the competition. Italy immediately took control of the play and build up multiple chances, but the young Malaysian defense, showing good composure despite their lack of international experience, weathered the storm quietly, with Ernawati MAHMUD putting on another stellar performance in goal.
Italy kept attacking unrelentingly but were denied time after time, even when Malaysia was twice reduced to ten players with yellow cards, and the game was still scoreless at halftime. The same pattern of play prevailed in second half, with Italy doing most of the attacking and Malaysia pushing them back with their good collective defense. Half way through the period, with fatigue settling in, the pace of play slowed down and Italy seemed to lose the urgency to score, allowing Malaysia to mount some interesting attacks of their own.
With time ticking down, Italy pushed desperately to score but Malaysia hanged on to earn the tie, their first point of the competition even though they are still chasing their first goal. Italy on the other hand will bitterly regret all their missed chances, as the draw now puts them in the obligation to beat Ireland to reach the Final.
Game 12 – Uruguay v. Canada: 5-0 (half-time: 0-4)
Canada did not waste any time to take the lead in the last game of the day, scoring on their first penalty corner by Stephanie HUME, with a hard hit over the falling goalkeeper after the initial shot was intercepted by the runner. They doubled their tally a few minutes later on another penalty-corner by Christine DePAPE, tapping over the line a ball pushed back three times by the Uruguayan defense, and were up 3-0 before twenty minutes of play, this time by Tiffany MICHALUK at the conclusion of another penalty-corner option.
With the support of the large local crowd, Canada was playing much better than at the beginning of the competition and had no trouble overwhelming the inexperienced South American team. They scored 2 more goals to finish with a comfortable win 5-0.
Korea is now the only team still unbeaten after 4 days of competition and have already secured their berth in the Final on Sunday. After the unexpected Italian setback against Malaysia, Ireland are in a comfortable position to also reach the Final.
The WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier continues on Saturday in Victoria with the conclusion of pool play, when Malaysia meet Uruguay, host Canada take on Korea, and Ireland conclude the day against Italy to decide who will play against Korea for the coveted ticket to Beijing.
WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier, Women – Victoria, Canada
Results day 4: Thursday 1 May 2008
Korea - Ireland 5:1 (3:1)
11mn Nikki SYMMONS (PC) 0:1
14mn Mi Seon KIM (FG) 1:1
21mn Hye Jin SEO (FG) 2:1
29mn Jung Hee KIM (PC) 3:1
55mn Hye Jin SEO (PC) 4:1
60mn Mi Young EOM (FG) 5:1
Italy - Malaysia 0:0 (0:0)
Uruguay - Canada 0:5 (0:4)
4mn Stephanie HUME (PC) 0:1
15mn Christine DePAPE (PC) 0:2
17mn Tiffany MICHALUK (PC) 0:3
23mn Katie RUSHTON (FG) 0:4
46mn Tiffany MICHALUK (FG) 0:5
Standings: 1) Korea 12pts 2) Ireland 9pts 3) Italy 7pts 4) Canada 6pts 5) Malaysia 1pt 6) Uruguay 0pt