Having been held at bay for much of the first half, Georgia Nanscawen’s goal just before half time opened the floodgates for a second period that witnessed goals from Claire Messent, Kellie White and Emily Hurtz, plus an unfortunate Spanish own goal, rounding off an intelligent performance by the Hockeyroos.
Head Coach Adam Commens was delighted with his side’s performance, saying afterwards, “I’m really pleased with the result and the performance. Spain can be a little tricky and they proved that in the first 20 minutes or so, but we knew if we persisted and adapted we’d get the result.
“I was pleased with the perseverance and our ability to learn during the match as we adapted to how they fell off and that’s a credit to our players.”
For Hockeyroos captain Madonna Blyth the match held special significance as she stepped out to represent her country for the 250th time. In doing so, she becomes only the fifth Australian woman to make 250 appearances, following in the footsteps of Nikki Hudson (303), Rochelle Hawkes (279), Karen Smith (271) and Katrina Powell (252).
Speaking about his captain, Commens said, “Donny was outstanding today. She led by example, she was creative and she ran hard. I think it was one of the best performances I’ve seen from her.”
With a match against England tomorrow, Commens said his focus had already turned to the clash with the tournament hosts: “We’ve got to focus on England now. A good result will give us the chance to top our pool and set us up for the all-important quarter-final.”
The quarter final ties will determine which sides reach the final four, with the top three teams in the tournament gaining qualification for the 2014 World Cup.
Things began brightly for the Hockeyroos with Georgie Parker threatening inside the opening two minutes with a deflection that flew narrowly wide of the post; and a fifth minute penalty corner saw shots saved from newly crowned World Young Player of the Year Anna Flanagan and Georgia Nanscawen as Australia looked to break the deadlock.
Dominant in possession from start to finish, the Hockeyroos might have taken the lead midway through the first half but Ashleigh Nelson’s exciting run along the baseline finished with a shot just wide.
That Nanscawen should score the opener was of little surprise given that she had already seen three good efforts kept out by Spanish goalkeeper Maria Lopez. Two minutes before the break it was Nanscawen who reacted quickest to sweep home from close range after good work by Nelson inside the circle to make it 1-0.
Just over five minutes after the restart Claire Messent doubled the Hockeryoos’ lead to 2-0. An acrobatic triple save by Lopez thwarted shots from Flanagan, Emily Smith and Nanscawen before Victorian Messent tucked the ball home from close range.
And Kellie White made it 3-0 soon after with a shot that looped over the line off the stick of a Spanish defender under pressure from youngster Jane Claxton. They say you create your own luck and that luck continued with an inadvertent own goal by Spanish defender Maria Lopez, off whose foot the ball rolled into the net from Karri McMahon’s penetrating long pass for 4-0.
Despite the Hockeyroos’ command, the Spanish did have one clear opportunity of their own, a rasping shot off the post of newly installed substitute goalkeeper Toni Cronk, but the Australian clean sheet remained intact.
Adding the icing to the cake in the final minute of the match, Emily Hurtz struck to make it 5-0. Casey’s Eastham’s shot from a narrow angle was kicked into the air by the substitute Spanish goalkeeper Ruiz and Hurtz showed great composure to pluck the ball from mid-air before dispatching it back into the goal. Hurtz had been only lately called into the side as a replacement for the injured Jade Warrender.
The Hockeyroos’ second fixture is against England at 2:00am AEST on Monday. The match can be seen live online at www.youtube.com/fihockey and on delay on Fox Sports 3 at 5:00am AEST on Monday.
HOCKEYROOS 5-0 (HT:1-0) SPAIN
For Hockeyroos: Georgia Nanscawen 33 (F), Claire Messent 41 (PC), Kellie White 45 (F), Own Goal 51 (OG), Emily Hurtz 70 (F)