Women’s Champions Challenge II – Day 3: Ireland, Ukraine, India and Belgium have all confirmed their places in the tournament Semi Finals of the Women’s Champions Challenge II tournament, being held in the Russian city of Kazan.
The day’s action began in Pool B, with Malaysia taking on high-flying Ireland. A closely fought battle was won by Ireland thanks to a solitary penalty corner from Lisa JACOB, which arrived midway through the first half. Malaysia put in arguably their best performance of the tournament but could not break through an impenetrable Irish defence that has conceded just one goal in three Champions Challenge II matches. The result was good enough to put Ireland into the Semi Finals, but they were force to wait until the outcome of Ukraine’s match against Russia to see if they would finish in 1st or 2nd place. Ukraine needed a big win over Russia to take first place in the table, which would mean they would have avoided playing the winner of Pool A in the 1-4 Classification matches. Ukraine got the win that they were looking for to seal a place in the Semi Finals, but the 2-1 score-line was not good enough to see them leap-frog Ireland into first place.
In Pool A, India continued their sensational form to make it three wins out of three by crushing Belarus 5-1. India cruised into a 4-1 half time lead thanks to strikes from Surinder KAUR, Mamta KHARB and Saba ANJUM (2), before KAUR added a second half penalty corner to seal the win. The result confirmed India as the winners of Pool A, and virtually handed second place to Belgium who had seen their already far superior goal difference advantage over Belarus increase even before they had stepped onto the field of play. Belgium needed to lose heavily for Belarus to take second place in the Pool, but it never seemed likely to happen against a Canada team that has found life tough in this tournament. Despite their poor form, Canada looked as if they were going to cause an upset when they took an early the lead through Jessalyn WALKEY. A shock result seemed even more likely when Diana ROEMER scored a 45th minute penalty corner, but Sophie GIERST rescued a point for her team with goals in the 52nd and 58th minutes to confirm their place in the 1-4 Classification matches.
Full reports of the matches along with scoring information can be found below.
Thursday is a tournament rest day, with the action resuming on Friday 26th June. That day will feature the first of the Classification matches, with the teams fighting for 5th to 8th place being first to take to the field. At 10.00 (GMT +3), Pool A’s third placed team Belarus take on Russia, who finished bottom of Pool B. That match is followed by the encounter between the teams that finished 3rd in Pool B and 4th in Pool A, which sees Malaysia and Canada going head to head at 12:30. The tournament Semi Final crossover matches begin at 15:30, with India (1st Pool A) facing a tricky fixture against Ukraine (2nd Pool B). The final match of the day is likely to be a fascinating one, as Ireland (1st Pool B) aim to fight their way past Belgium (2nd Pool A) at 18.00. The winners of the two Semi Finals will meet in the tournament Final on Sunday.
You can find Pool Tables and official Match reports on the Champions Challenge II page of this website. To visit this page, click here.
DAY 3 REPORTS
Match 9: Ireland 1 defeated Malaysia 0
Ireland kept up their impressive defensive record at the Women’s Champions Challenge II in Kazan with a 1:0 victory over Malaysia. Ireland have conceded just one goal in their three matches so far in this tournament, and are looking like serious contenders for the title. As suggested by the result, there was little to choose between these two teams, but a penalty corner from Lisa JACOB in the 18th minute proved to be the decisive factor.
Ireland were again without captain Eimear Cregan who has been recovering from an ankle injury, but her side put in another excellent performance under the leadership of Bridget McKeever. The green shirts started brightly, but did not get their first real opportunity until the 17th minute when they won a penalty corner. This first effort was wide of the target, but a minute later Ireland won a second corner and made no mistake, as Lisa JACOB deflected a Shirley McCay pass high into the roof of the Malaysia goal. Malaysia made life difficult for the Irish in the second half, winning four penalty corners to put the Europeans under considerable pressure. However, the Irish defence held strong and cleared the danger on each occasion, much to the frustration of the Malaysians. The latter stages of the match were dominated by Ireland, but they could not add to their solitary first half goal. One-nil proved enough to give Ireland a place in the semi finals and virtually guaranteed their place as Pool winners.
Match 10: Ukraine 2 defeated Russia 1
Ukraine got the win that they needed to take their place in the Semi Finals, but could not overhaul Ireland’s superior goal difference and finished second in Pool B as a result. A 2-1 victory over Russia was enough to guarantee their place in the 1-4 Classification matches, but the team now face the difficult task of playing the team that finishes top of Pool A – most likely India – in their next match on Friday.
Both teams began the match knowing that they had everything to play for. Russia knew that a big victory could see them move ahead of Ukraine in the Pool B table on goal difference, but for Ukraine a draw would be good enough to seal a place in the Semi Finals. It was Ukraine who struck first, when Olena DERKACH scored from a penalty corner in the 20th minute of the match to give her side a 1-0 lead. It was a big blow to the qualification hopes of Russia, but an overtime penalty corner goal from Aleksandra KOLALEVA at the end of the first half gave them a reason to be optimistic ahead of the second half. Sadly for the host nation, Ukraine struck what proved to be a killer blow in the 46th minute of the match when prolific goal scorer Maryna VYNOHRADOVA registered her third goal of the tournament with a penalty corner. For Russia, the defeat meant that the host nation finished the Pool phase at the bottom of the table, meaning that they will play in the 5-8 classification matches on Friday and Saturday.
Match 11: India 5 defeated Belarus 1
India confirmed their place as Pool winners with another crushing victory in the Women’s Champions Challenge II, with Belarus on the receiving end of a 5-1 thrashing. Belarus simply could not contain the confident Indians, who scored four goals in the first half to effectively seal the win before the second period had even begun. India have won all three matches that they have played so far, scoring 18 goals and conceding just five times in the process.
India came out of the blocks quickest, and scored the game’s opening goal in just the 3rd minute when Captain Surinder KAUR fired in a field goal. Dazzling attacker Mamta KHARB added a second with a penalty corner in the 16th minute before Saba ANJUM made it 3-0 a couple of minutes later with an open play strike. Belarus were struggling to contain an India team that look dangerous with every attack, and soon conceded a fourth when ANJUM cracked in another field goal in the 24th minute. However, Belarus pulled a goal back just a minute later when Nastassia SHCHARBOKOVA struck from open play to make the score 4-1. Despite this minor recovery, India never really looked likely to concede enough goals to lose the match, being fully in control for most of the second period. In the 62nd minute, Belarus let their frustrations get the better of them and Maryia KORZH-TSEPUN was given a ten minute Yellow Card suspension for physical play. In the same minute, India added their fifth goal with Surinder KAUR again on target, finding the back of the net with a penalty corner to register her fifth goal of the tournament. There were no further goals, and India will go into Friday’s Semi Final match full of confidence from their impressive attacking displays so far in this tournament.
Match 12: Belgium and Canada drew 2-2
Canada produced their best performance of the tournament but it was not quite good enough to claim all three points against a determined Belgium team. Belgium fought back from a two-goal deficit to tie the match 2-2, with Sophie GIERST scoring twice to rescue her team.
Canada got off to a flying start when in the form Jessalyn WALKEY hit the target with a well taken field goal in the second minute. Belgium were stunned by this early blow, but worked hard to get back into the contest. Despite their efforts, Canada were solid in defence and continued to look dangerous going forwards. Canada reached half time with their lead still intact, with Belgium’s Maorgane VOUCHE receiving a Yellow Card just before the break for a deliberate push. Ten minutes after half time things got even better for the North Americans when Diana ROEMER scored a penalty corner to increase the advantage. However, a 52nd minute penalty stroke from Sofie GIERST brought Belgium back into the match and the Europeans went in search of an equaliser. It arrived in the 58th minute, and GIERST was again the scorer, this time with a field goal. Canada’s frustrations began to show as the match neared its end, with Katie RUSHTON and Tyla FLEXMAN being given Yellow Cards for
A deliberate push and a stick check respectively. The draw was enough for Belgium to reach the 1-4 Classification matches, while Canada will be play in the 5-8 play-off games that begin on Friday.
Women’s Champions Challenge II Day 3: Scores and Scorers
Match 9: Pool B – Ireland v Malaysia 1:0 (1:0)
1-0 IRL Lisa JACOB PC 18m
Match 10: Pool B – Russia v Ukraine 1-2 (1-1)
0-1 UKR Olena DERKACH PC 20m
1-1 RUS Aleksandra KOLALEVA PC 35+m
1-2 UKR Maryna VYNORAHDOVA PC 46m
Match 11: Pool A – India v Belarus 5:1 (4:1)
1-0 IND Surinder KAUR FG 3m
2-0 IND Mamta KHARB PC 16m
3-0 IND Saba ANJUM FG 18m
4-0 IND Saba ANJUM FG 24m
4-1 BLR Nastassia SHCHARBOKOVA FG 25m
5-1 IND Surinder KAUR PC 62m
Match 12: Pool A – Belgium v Canada 2:2 (0:1)
0-1 CAN Jessalyn WALKEY FG 2m
0-2 CAN Diana ROEMER PC 45m
1-2 BEL Sofie GIERST PS 52m
2-2 BEL Sofie GIERST FG 58m