The Hockeyroos have booked their place in Sunday afternoons gold medal match at the 2015 Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand against Trans-Tasman rivals, the Black Sticks, after defeating China 3-2 in the semi-final Saturday evening. New Zealand defeated Korea by 4-0 in the other semi final.
Earlier in the day, USA beat India 3-0 with two goals from Katie O’Donnell and one from Kathleen Sharkey. The Americans will now face Argentina in the 5th/6th play-off tomorrow after narrowly winning 3-2 against Japan. India will play Japan tomorrow to decide the 7th/8th position.
Full Video: Australia vs China: Semi Final Hawke’s Bay Cup 2015
The semi-final marked a special milestone for Hockeyroos Captain Madonna Blyth. After playing in the team for more than a decade, Blyth made her 300th appearance in green and gold. She has now become the only second Australian female player to have reached 300 matches, and is three caps off record holder Nikki Hudson’s 303 appearances.
Hockeyroos Head Coach Adam Commens congratulated Madonna Blyth on her achievement, he said, “It’s an outstanding achievement from Madonna and she played very well this evening. She worked hard, she covered all areas of the pitch, created opportunities in attack and defended very well. Madonna is a great role model for any young aspiring Hockeyroo and she’s an absolute pleasure to work with.”
Madonna Blyth doubled up on her 300th milestone for the Hockeyroos after scoring the first goal of the semi-final. Awarded a penalty corner in the 11th minute, due to unfair play by China, Blyth swept the ball past Chinese goalkeeper Dongxiao Li and into the back of the net, setting the score up, 1-0.
Four minutes after the first quarter break, Mengyu Wang scored the equalising goal for China. Awarded their first penalty corner at the 20th minute mark, Hockeyroos’ goalkeeper Rachael Lynch was unable to deny Wang’s on-target drag flick, deadlocking the score, 1-1.
It wasn’t until the third quarter that the Hockeyroos received their chance to break the tie with their opponents. Working a penalty corner in the 42nd minute, Jodie Kenny’s on-point drag flick did not disappoint, breaking the lock and fighting back, 2-1.
With 15 minutes remaining on the clock and both team’s under pressure, Hockeyroos’ forward Georgie Parker bagged a third goal for Australia off the back of penalty corner in the 51st minute. Quickly following four minutes later, China received their opportunity at another penalty corner. Qian Yu successfully netted her shot, however, it wasn’t enough to knock the Hockeyroos off their 3-2 semi final victory.
Speaking about the team’s performance after the semi-final, Commens said, “Tonight was again an improved performance. Good teams are always going to get opportunities against you, China took a couple of well taken penalty corners and that kept them in touch, however, ultimately we were in control. China were pressing quite high and that meant there was space to go over the top with aerial balls. It was a successful tactic and towards the end of the match it was used to release pressure more than anything.”
With the team’s focus now turned towards the gold medal match on Sunday, Commens added, “We need to continue to progress our way of play. It’s something that we aim to do in each tournament we participate in.
“In this tournament, we have a number of different players in through the midfield and the back, and they’re developing in each match. We will be hoping they continue to improve and put on another good performance against New Zealand in the final.”
The Hockeyroos will face the New Zealand Black Sticks in the final on Sunday 19 April, 4:45pm AEST / 2:45pm AWST. This will be shown live online here.