The Fans of HockeyEventsChampions TrophyA fairytale ending for Lucha as Argentina Keep Women’s Champions Trophy

The Argentine Legend Luciana Aymar, ended her career with winning FIH Women’s Hockey Champions Trophy 2014 in front her home crowd in Mendoza. After Netherlands defeated New Zealand by 2-1 in Bronze Medal match, the defending champions Argentina needed shoot-out to emerge winners (3-1), after both teams having locked at 1-1 in regulation time.

Argentina Star Hockey Player Luciana Aymar with FIH Women’s Champions Trophy 2014 (Credits: Frank Uijlenbroek)

Earlier in the day, England clinched fifth place in shoot-out 3-2 after being struck at 1-1 in regulation time against China, and Germany defeated Japan 5-3 to avoid wooden spoon.

With much of the pre-match talk about the impending retirement of the heroine of Argentine hockey, the eight times World Player of the Year Lucania Aymar, the Hockeyroos seemed to have saved some of their best hockey of a hugely successful year.

In a game in which the Hockeyroos enjoyed the best of the chances, Kathryn Slattery gave the Australian women the lead shortly after half time with a neat close range touch beyond Belen Succi before Florencia Habif levelled from Argentina’s only penalty corner four minutes later.

With the score deadlocked after 60 minutes the match went to a shoot-out. Australia appealed Luciana’s opening strike claiming the ball had not crossed the line after hitting both posts and rebounding out. Replays appeared to show they had just cause for the argument but the goal stood. Captain Casey Eastham struck for Australia after Georgia Nanscawen had missed her effort, but Argentina goalkeeper Belen Succi denied Karri McMahon and Emily Smith to win her team the trophy.

Speaking immediately after the match, Hockeyroos Head Coach Adam Commens said, “I thought we played very well. We created enough opportunities during the game to finish it off but their goalkeeper, Belen Succi, played a great match. We were not as clinical as we could have been though. It’s disappointing to lose in the shoot-out and I thought we were unlucky there, too. In the first half we needed to be a little more precise in our passing and we had to tidy that up in the second half. It’s fantastic to reach the final with such a young group and I’ve been proud of their conduct on and off the pitch throughout the tournament. The future looks good for the Hockeyroos. The competition within the squad is fiercer than ever, which can only enhance our progression.

In the Bronze Medal match, New Zealand started the game well but the world champions quickly picked up their game and the Black Sticks were 0-1 down at the end of the first quarter, courtesy of a goal from Xan de Waard.  The Dutch doubled their lead in the 16th minute when Lidewij Welten received a pacey cross that goal keeper Sally Rutherford and defender Liz Thompson were unable to save on the line.

With the Dutch having over two-thirds of the possession in the first two spells, the Kiwis were pleased to win a penalty corner a minute before the half time hooter. A clever variation, starting with a fake from Anita Punt at the top of the circle, saw Sophie Cocks deflect it in, giving the Black Sticks a real chance ahead of the second half.

England's Laura Unsworth celebrates her winning effort in the shootout against China during FIH Women's Hockey Champions Trophy 2014 in (Credits: World Sport Pics)

England’s Laura Unsworth celebrates her winning effort in the shootout against China during FIH Women’s Hockey Champions Trophy 2014 in (Credits: World Sport Pics)

The Black Sticks continued to push the Olympic champions in the second half, but despite the Kiwi’s best efforts, they couldn’t find the equaliser. With time running out, Rutherford was replaced with an eleventh field player, Liz Thompson. The Dutch were awarded a penalty corner with less than two minutes remaining and with no keeper the Kiwi defence did well to save a powerful drag flick.

England held their nerve to run out 3-2 winners in a dramatic shootout seeing off China and clinching 5th place at the Champions Trophy. The sides had played out a 1-1 draw over the 60 minutes with Shona McCallin’s first international goal cancelled out by Qiuxia Cui’s 42nd minute equaliser. With the game tied at full-time, it meant England would face a shootout and with goalkeeper Maddie Hinch saving three times, Laura Unsworth was able to slot home in sudden death to hand Danny Kerry’s side the win.

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