Day Eleven: The Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup

Australia World Cup 2
A night of high drama at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre saw Spain and Australia progress to the semi-finals of the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup. 

In the opening game, the Red Sticks defied the world rankings to beat Germany 1-0, while in the second it took a shootout and fourteen penalties for Australia to see off Argentina.

Nothing could separate the sides in normal time and Brooke Peris netted the fourteenth penalty of the shootout to send Australia through. 

Goalkeepers Rachael Lynch and Belen Succi were in fine form throughout making seven saves between them in the shootout and many more during the match.

It was a quiet opening quarter but the game eventually sprung into life in the second half as Argentina began to dominate possession as Australia battled to keep Las Leonas at bay.

There were chances at both ends but neither side could make a telling strike and the tie headed to a shootout.

Kristina Bates, Rosie Malone and Karri McMahon all found the net for Australia while Lucina Von Der Heyde, Agustina Albertarrio and Julia Gomes were on target for Argentina as the sides headed for sudden death.

Lynch was quick to punce and stop Albertarrio before Succi kept her side in the match with a great tackle on Bates.

It was then the turn of Argentina captain Delfina Merino whose first effort was retaken after a foul from Lynch but with her second chance shot into the side netting.

This allowed Peris to step up and send Australia into the semi-finals. She headed left and dragged Succi wide before spinning back onto her strong side and tucking into the net.

Spain World Cup

In the first quarter-final of the evening Spain sprang a surprise in beating Germany 1-0 to qualify for the semi-final of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup. 

Going into the game, Germany were, along with the Netherlands, the tournament’s in-form team after taking three wins from their group-stage games. Moreover, one of these wins was against Spain, by three goals to one.  

It was a different Spain today, though. In a cagey encounter, they showed great resilience to absorb continual German pressure, before hitting them with a late counter-punch. 

Discussing her tournament ambitions, a jubilant Spain captain Maria Lopez said: “I think we can win. Now we are in the semi-final and we want the final. We believe in ourselves.” 

The game started according to the form book, with Germany on top. Setting out to deprive the Red Sticks of time and frequently stealing the ball from them, much of the first quarter was spent in Spain’s half. 

After an early Germany short-corner, there was a moment of brilliance from one of the players of the tournament, Charlotte Stapenhorst, who fired a backhand shot at the Spain goal, which forced the very best out of keeper Maria Ruiz. 

The stats at the end of the quarter showed that Germany had had five shots on goal to Spain’s zero. 

Though they had a 17th minute short corner, Germany’s dominance began to lessen in the second quarter. Spain had the best chance of the period when Maialen Garcia returned to the pitch following a green card unbeknownst to Germany’s defence. 

Collecting the ball just inside Germany’s half, she had a clear run to the ‘D’, but she checked back, allowing a German defender to recover. 

Spain continued to be focused and organised defensively, and Die Danas were not able to summon up the moments of real quality required to break them down. Though Germany’s Marie Mavers had a half-chance on the turn, they regularly miscontrolled the ball and grew noticeably frustrated.

By the last quarter, the pendulum had swung Spain’s way. In the 48th minute, Spain’s Beatriz Perez narrowly failed to connect with a cross from the right. Germany had been warned. Six minutes later and from the same right flank, Carlota Petchame crossed for Carmen Cano to convert from a yard and put the Red Sticks in front. 

Die Danas had one last chance to equalise when a short corner was awarded with 24 seconds on the clock, but Nike Lorenz slapped agonisingly wide and Red Sticks celebrations could begin.

The semi-finals take place on Saturday, with Spain due to play the winner of the Ireland and India match tomorrow night. Australia play the team that prevails in tomorrow night’s other big game, between world numbers one and two, the Netherlands and England.