HOCKEYROOS 1-3 (HT:1-2) KOREA
Hockeyroos: Karri McMahon 23 (PC)
Korea: Cheon Seul Ki 15,40 (PC,PC) , Park Mi Hyun 20 (F)
In a match that saw Victorian Georgia Nanscawen become the youngest woman to reach 100 international appearances for the Australia, Karri McMahon’s (SA) first international for Australia was not enough to see the Hockeyroos over the line on Sunday as they went down 3-1 to Korea in Perth.
An enterprising start saw the Hockeyroos create three good opportunities to take the lead inside the opening ten minutes but it was the visitors that broke the deadlock after quarter of an hour through Cheon Seul Ki from a penalty corner. Five minutes later the Koreans were two up through Park Mi Hyun; the captain grabbing her third of the series from close range after Toni Cronk’s initial save.
McMahon’s goal from a 23rd minute penalty corner flew into the net via the pads of the goalkeeper to half the deficit and things might have been very different had Anna Flanagan’s drag flick not cannoned back off the top of the post two minutes later.
Instead, it was Korea who found the back of the net shortly after half time through Cheon’s second of the game; a high penalty corner flick into the top right corner.
Head Coach Adam Commens said afterwards, “This has been a really worthwhile series. We’ve learnt a lot about our team and our players. We will need to be more consistent if we want to climb up the world rankings over the coming months in the lead up to the World League.”
Of the match, Commens added: “We created more than enough chances in the first 15 minutes but Korea is the type of team that you can’t afford to get behind. We showed yesterday we have the ability to score goals but today we struggled. We’re looking for more consistency up front and some more leadership and authority in defence, although we’re still missing Jodie Schultz, Jayde Taylor and Kobie McGurk from our London 2012 Olympic defence.”
Jade Close had Australia’s first sight of goal in the opening minutes but her effort was deflected to safety. Moments later the ball hit the back of the Korean goal but with no touch inside the circle the match remained 0-0. Karri McMahon then saw her first penalty corner effort blocked only for Close to send a tomahawk shot wide of the far post.
At the other end, Toni Cronk pulled off an important block from Cheon Seul Ki but the forward was not to be denied a minute later when she flicked low across goal from Korea’s second penalty corner. Park doubled the lead in the 20th minute before McMahon stepped up to fire home her first senior international goal. Madonna Blyth and Flanagan, with her effort against the post, also came close to equalising before the break.
Despite conceding the third goal Australia looked in control for much of the second half but with the Korean defence sitting deep, clear cut chances were limited to a couple of shots well saved. Flanagan saw another flick saved by the Korean substitute goalkeeper Jung Hea Bin, who tipped the ball over the bar with her stick, while Kellie White’s shot on the turn was kicked to safety.
Acclaiming Georgia Nanscawen’s remarkable journey to 100 caps, Commens added: “It’s an outstanding effort. She’s an incredible talent who continues to grow. She was one of our best players throughout the series, very consistent in these four games. She gave us a real target to aim for up front.”
Nanscawen made her debut aged 17 against South Africa on 28 May 2009. At 20 years and 336 days old she became the youngest Hockeyroos player to reach the 100 match milestone. The previous youngest 100-cap Hockeyroo was Karen Smith, who reached the century in 2000 aged 21.
Karen Smith, the previous youngest Hockeyroo centurion, also made her debut at 17, in 1996, going on to play 271 times and scoring 48 international goals. Smith reached her landmark 100th appearance in August 2000 against China at the age of 21. By the time of her retirement in 2006 she had competed at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, three World Cups, eight Champions Trophies and two Commonwealth Games, winning Commonwealth gold in Melbourne and World Cup silver in Madrid in 2006.
Next week, it’s the turn of the Kookaburras as Australia’s men take on Korea in four matches at Perth Hockey Stadium. The series begins on Friday, 3 May, at 7:00pm WST. All four matches will be live streamed on the Hockey Australia website at www.hockey.org.au.