The Dutch progressed to the grand final by defeating the hosts Argentina on a shoot-out (3-2) following a 2-2 draw, while the Hockeyroos outclassed England by 3-0 in “Ashes” clash in the semi-final with goals coming from Jodie Schulz, Georgie Parker and Karri McMahon.
The final will take place at 9pm local time in Tucumán on Sunday evening, which is 11am AEDT / 8am AWST on Monday morning in Australia (Full Schedule here).
Australia dominated the match and found themselves denied a much greater margin of victory by English goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, who thwarted, amongst others, Ashleigh Nelson on three first-half occasions.
Hockeyroos Head Coach Adam Commens called it “a very satisfying win”, adding, “We were really clinical and it was probably our best performance of the tournament. We played well; the girls stuck to our game plan and made good decisions, both on and off the ball.”
Australia’s women have reached the final in each of their last three major competitions, emerging as the winners of the Oceania Cup, Investec World League semi-final tournament and Champions Challenge. Commens added, “It’s important to play in finals hockey and the World League final will be another challenge. This is our fourth final in the last four tournaments and is good preparation for next year’s World Cup.”
After taking the lead shortly before half time and despite scoring twice in a lightning quick start to the second period, the Sydney Olympic bronze medal winner said there had been no special instructions at half time. “We didn’t say anything special. We talked about what we expected from England in the second half and what we wanted to do at penalty corners but the main message was if we continue to create enough chances then more goals would come,” said Commens.
Speaking after the game England Head Coach Jason Lee said, “I think all the teams that were in Pool A have struggled today, with each side losing [their respective matches] so far. Our group have played in intense heat all week, in contrast to the Pool B teams who have played in the cooler evening matches. We looked physically very tired and ended up chasing the game for most of the match. I was really pleased that we kept at Australia and never gave up, but they were the better side tonight, as they have been all year, and they deserved the win.”
A dominant opening half hour had failed to reward the Hockeyroos’ persistence. When it came, Queenslander Jodie Schulz’s opening goal just three minutes before half time was well deserved but came in controversial circumstances. As Australia celebrated England appealed to the video umpire citing a telling deflection off the body of Teneal Attard on its route to goal. Replays appeared to show the possibility that the ball had deviated as it went past Attard but the goal was given and Australia led 1-0 at the break.
But it was the Hockeyroos’ blistering start to the second half that rocked England. With Ashleigh Nelson, Georgie Parker, Madonna Blyth and Emily Smith all involved, Australia pressed England deep inside their defensive circle and as England failed to clear their lines Georgie Parker forced the ball home to double the Hockeyroos’ advantage.
Just four minutes later it was 3-0. Karri McMahon had yet to have a sighter at goal all tournament but it didn’t seem to matter as the South Australian defender fired an unstoppable drag flick into the far corner of the net from a penalty corner.
With the Hockeyroos three goals up goalkeeper Rachael Lynch was called upon to make several saves, including a top drawer gloved save from Alex Danson’s superb tomahawk, but she and her defence were equal to everything thrown at them.
A flurry of green and yellow cards left the Hockeyroos with ten players at times late on and there was some concern for Victorian Claire Messent who left the field with a bleeding nose late on but Australia marched on to claim their place in the final.
England’s Sam Quek, on her 50th appearance, was desperately disappointed with the result, “We looked very tired out there tonight and that certainly wasn’t our best performance. The morale in the changing room at half-time was good, despite the late goal from Australia, but losing concentration for the first five minutes after the break cost us. We reacted well from that and created a couple of good chances, but we couldn’t find a way through. Australia is always a good tough game and credit to them, they played really well tonight.”
Earlier in the day New Zealand beat Korea 3-1 and China beat Germany by the same score line to set up the 5th – 8th place play-off matches.