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News for 04 March 2015

All the news for Wednesday 4 March 2015

Exciting quarter-finals line-up in San Diego

World League R2, men – Day3

With their third win of the competition (over Italy 2-0), Ireland finished first in pool A and will face Trinidad & Tobago in quarter-finals. Austria finished second in the group, setting up a quarter-final against the USA.

Russia, also unbeaten, topped Pool B after a 4-2 win over the USA and will face Chile in quarter-finals. With their win over Trinidad & Tobago (3-0), their second of the competition, Canada finished runner-up in the pool and will now face Italy, the good surprise of this competition.

Canada vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 3-0 (ht: 1-0)

With the Californian sun back after three days of heavy rain, Canada immediately went on the attack as they absolutely needed a win to grab a satisfactory finish in pool B. Canada had most of the initial possession but Trinidad & Tobago seemed to have renewed energy with the warmer weather, not to mention the arrival of their stalwart Kwan Browne freshly arrived from Europe after a weekend of matches in the English League.

Canada had a chance on a penalty-corner but were kept at bay by the Trinidadian defense and first quarter ended scoreless. Ron Alexander in the Trinidadian goal was called into action early in second quarter, before Canada were finally rewarded for their territorial domination in the 18th minute when Mark Pearson deflected in goal a penalty-corner initially saved by the goal-keeper.

Canada were besieging the Trinidadian goal but had nothing more to show for their effort. Trinidad & Tobago on the other end earned a penalty-corner in one of their lone entry in Canadian territory, but could not control it and the half-time break was reached with the thin one-goal lead for the North Americans.

Trinidad & Tobago survived a penalty-corner in the opening minute of second half. Canada tried different avenues but could not find a way through the Caribbean defense, well regrouped and organized around Kwan Browne. Antoni Kindler, in goal for Canada today, progressively saw more action and was even under intense pressure when the Canadians had to play short on a yellow card.

After their initial domination, the Canadians could not quite take control of the proceedings and left themselves within reach of their opponent, with still the one-goal lead going into the final quarter. They controlled the ball in midfield for long sequences but could not move or stretch enough the Trinidadian defense to have clear shots at goal. Even Scott Tupper’s attempts on penalty-corner were off target, and the crowd had to wait for the 53rd minute for the second Canadian goal, Iain Smythe managing to slide the ball in goal from close range.

Tempers started to warm-up and the umpires had to hand out yellow cards. But the floodgates were now opened and Canada added a goal by Matthew Sarmento for a 3-0 score better reflecting their domination. Gordon Johnston made a specular line save for Canada with a handful of minutes left and the Canadians earned the win they were expecting, before watching with interest the match between Russia and USA that will decide the final standings in pool B.

USA vs. Russia: 2-4 (ht: 0-4)

Last match of Pool B saw a classic sport rivalry between the USA and Russia, with both teams still in contention to top the group with a win. Russia pressured early and took control of the proceedings by Anton Kornilov in the 8th minute. They kept pushing their opponent back on their heels, but the USA held tight, even though they had few chances of getting out of their own zone in the opening quarter.

Play became more balance in second quarter, with chances at both ends. The Americans were keeping their composure and defensive structure, and it took a powerful penalty-corner by Denis Shchipachev in the 22nd minute to finally beat again Christopher Rea in the USA goal. The break seemed to deflate the American spirits and Shchipachev immediately added another penalty-corner for good measure.

Russia scored again by Pavel Golubev and the 4-goal gap at half-time seemed like an unsurmountable obstacle for the North Americans, who were having trouble finding ways into the Russian defensive block.

The USA pulled back one goal early in second half, with a clinical finish by Christian Linney, and Pat Harris had a super chance soon after alone in front of Marat Gafarov  in the Russian goal. The Americans were now dictating pace and forced a penalty-corner; it was scored after a complicated (and possibly unplanned) option that found Alex Cunningham alone at the right post to slam the ball in goal. USA survived a penalty-corner and looked very much back in the game at the end of the third quarter (2-4).

The Americans kept pushing in the last quarter and were all over their opponent’s circle. They earned a penalty-corner but Gafarov pulled a spectacular stick save to maintain his team’s 2-goal cushion. With five minutes left in the match, the USA pulled their goal-keeper for an additional field player. They even had a double numerical advantage with Russia on a green card and their gambit paid off with another penalty-corner, but it was cleared by a Russian defenders. Russia closed ranks in the final minutes of the match to protect their endangered lead.

The win put them alone at the top of pool B, while the loss pushed the USA down to third place, behind Canada.

Ireland vs. Italy: 2-0 (ht: 1-0)

Ireland, still unbeaten in this competition, wanted a win to secure their spot at the top of pool A without having to wait for the result of the last match between Austria and Chile. They were immediately all over the Italian circle and scored early by Eugene Magee, but failed at four penalty-corners and could not break further the disciplined Italian defense in the first quarter.

Same pattern prevailed in second quarter, with Ireland totally controlling play and Italy studiously defending. Ireland was definitively off-target on their penalty-corners and were kept at bay by Francesco Padovani having a strong afternoon in the Italian goal. They reached half-time with a meagre one-goal advantage to show for all their efforts and domination.

Ireland were not luckier in third quarter even though they camped nearly permanently in the Italian half. They scrambled another penalty-corner and their lead was still hanging on a single tiny thread after 45’ of play.

Ireland finally broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute by Shane O'Donoghue, penetrating aggressively in the circle and beating Padovani with a clinical low reverse shot.

Even though the result of the match was never in real question, the Irish will wonder about their lack of efficiency to substantiate their domination, especially on a large number of penalty-corners, while the surprising Italian team once again fulfilled their pre-tournament goal to be competitive in every game.

Chile vs. Austria: 1-5 (ht: 1-4)

A second win for Austria would secure them second place in Pool A, while the Chilean, without a point in the competition so far, needed a win with a large margin to escape last place in the group. The South Americans immediately set to the task at hand and promptly earned a penalty-corner, powerfully converted by Nicolas Renz.

The Austrians tried to react but the Chileans were boosted by their lead and pressing very fast on the Austrians midfield. It took a low penalty-corner by Michael Körper, surprising Adrian Henriquez in the Chilean goal, to level the score just before the end of first quarter. 

Second quarter started as an observation round, with neither team wanting to commit or expose themselves too much. The Chilean defense was fooled in the 26th minute by an unexpected cross into the circle that found Alexander Bele alone, with an easy deflection into Henriquez’s goal. Back in the lead and with Chile short two players on green cards, Austria added a penalty-corner by Dominic Uher and a goal on the buzzer by Robert Bele, building a comfortable and seemingly unsurmountable 3-goal cushion.

They increased their lead in the 38th minute through another penalty-corner by Michael Körper and the match was as well as sealed with still one quarter to go. Austria cruised through the last quarter of the match and will now face the USA in quarter-finals.

Schedule for Day 4 (Thursday March 5): quarter-finals
QF1: Ireland vs. Trinidad & Tobago
QF2: Canada vs. Italy
QF3: Austria vs. USA
QF4: Russia vs. Chile

PAHF Media release

Team USA’s Second Half Spark Brings Life to Scoreboard, Undefeated Russia

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – In the final day of pool play during the Men’s Hockey World League Round 2, the U.S. Men’s National Team fell to an undefeated Russia team, 4 – 2.

Knowing they would be tested early on, Team USA’s defense was able to stand strong against a very talented and quick offense. Right from the whistle, the USMNT’s defenders were under pressure as Russia was able to generate several close scoring opportunities. Russia found the back of the cage in the 8th minute of play off a goal from Anton Kornilov. Despite the continuous attack presence, Team USA finished out the first quarter solid, only allowing one goal to make the score USA 0, Russia 1.

Team USA produced more offensive threats in the second quarter, but none translated into an equalizer. Off a penalty corner in the 22nd minute of play, Russia converted a drag flick that went just right of USA goalkeeper Chris Rea (San Diego, Calif.) into a goal. Russia capitalized again after Team USA’s diving defensive attempt to keep the ball out of the cage wasn’t enough, creating a score of USA 0, Russia 3. Russia would find the back of the net one more time before halftime with a backhand shot from the top of the circle, making the score at half USA 0, Russia 4.

“We knew we weren’t our best in the first half,” said USA athlete Tom Barratt (Greensboro, N.C.). “We kind of had a similar scenario when playing Trinidad and Tobago as well where we were down one goal and then came back in the second half. We know what it takes to come out and play properly. So we made slight tactical changes and pushed on from there.”

Defensive organization and persistence put a spark in Team USA’s pitch presence for the third quarter. Starting out under defensive pressure, the USMNT was able to build the ball up the field for a scoring opportunity. In the 37th minute of play, Christian Linney (San Diego, Calif.) capitalized off a hard shot, making the score USA 1, Russia 4. Just minutes later off a penalty corner, USA’s Alex Cunningham (Bad Kreuznach, Ger.) redirected a ball off the right post for another goal.

Head Coach Chris Clements explained the subtle points of play from the first to the second half that made the difference on the results board.
“It was really just a belief in what we have in place,” said Clements. “We’ve been playing well throughout the week but made some very small, uncharacteristic errors, which can be deflating. We told the guys to believe and our second half proved that. We just need to do that from the starting whistle.”

In the final quarter of play, the momentum of the game switched back and forth between teams for a while before the USMNT took a risk to close the scoring gap. With just 4 minutes remaining in the match, Team USA pulled their goalkeeper to utilize a kicking back in hopes of generating more offensive threats. Despite dual green cards for USA’s Cunningham and Mohan Gandhi (Ventura, Calif.) in the 59th minute, the United States respectively fought for and earned attacking opportunities in their attacking end until the final minute of play. Russia’s strong first half effort would deem enough to secure a final score USA 2, Russia 4.

With the pool play wrapping up, the USMNT head into their quarterfinal game on Thursday, March 5. Their opponent and playing time will be determined at the completion of today’s other matches. Catch live updates on all USMNT matches at the Men’s Hockey World League Round 2 by following @USAFieldHockey on Twitter. #HLW2015 #RoadToRi

USFHA media release

Canadian men end group play with win over Trinidad and Tobago

Canada takes second place in Pool B at World League 2

Shaheed Devji

The Canadian Men's National Field Hockey Team secured second place in Pool B on Tuesday with a 3-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in both teams' final pool-stage match at World League 2 in Chula Vista, California.

With the victory, Canada will face the third place team from Pool A in a cross-over quarter-final match on Thursday, March 5th.

Canada controlled play through the majority of Tuesday's match, generating chances throughout and eventually converting three times.

The first of Canada's three goals came in the eighteenth minute from veteran Mark Pearson on a penalty corner. Canada led 1-0 heading to the half.

The second half looked very much like the first, with Canada creating many scoring opportunities and eventually putting two by the Trinidadian keeper.

In the the fifty-third minute Iain Smythe netted his second of the tournament and two minutes later Matthew Sarmento potted his third of the tournament.

The 3-0 lead is all Canada needed to secure the victory.

The win gives Canada six points through pool play and secures second place in the group. Russia finishes in first, with the United States and Trinidad and Tobago rounding out the bottom two.

Each team moves on to the elimination round which begins Thursday. Canada will play in the second quarterfinal at 10:45am on Thursday.

Field Hockey Canada media release

India aiming top two finish in Women's WL R2: Oltmans

NEW DELHI: India is eyeing a top two finish in the upcoming FIH Women's Hockey World League Round 2 to progress to the next round of the tournament, said Hockey India's High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans on Tuesday.

Oltmans, who will be in charge of the team in the tournament as newly appointed foreign coach Anthony Thornton of New Zealand is yet to resume his duties, said the Indian eves are in perfect shape to achieve their target.

"There are only physical differences if we compare the men's and the women's team. These girls are really eager to learn and I can see the progress. We are aiming at finishing among the top two in order to clear for the next round," Oltmans said after the team's practice session.

"The recently concluded Spain tour has really helped the girls in their preparation and it (the tournament) will be a good test to show their capacity. The team is in shape and ready for the challenge," the legendary Dutchman said.

The eight-nation tournament will be held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here from March 7 to 15.

Apart from India, other participating teams in the event are Poland, Ghana, Thailand, Malaysia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Singapore.

India are placed in Pool A along side Poland, Ghana and Thailand while Malaysia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Singapore form Pool B.

The Times of India

Set-backs for Junior Scots against Ulster

Scotland’s U21 squads experienced disappointing results at the hands of Ulster in their two match international series, losing both matches in Belfast in Monday and today’s encounters.

Scotland U21 Men

Scotland U21 Men lost their series 2-0 to Ulster, with narrow 2-1 and 4-3 defeats across the two matches.

Despite Murray Collins giving the junior Scots a 15th minute lead from a penalty corner drag-flick in their first match, the hosts levelled the score at 1-1 via Sean Murray shortly after.

Some slightly generous defending seconds from full-time presented Ulster with the opportunity to clinch the match, Andrew McWhirter scoring the winning goal.

The home side took an early lead in the second contest, Neal Glassey opening the scoring in the fourth minute.

In the 23rd minute, the Scots fell further behind, this time to a penalty corner set-piece that saw Matthew Allister convert an opportunity at the back-post to make it 2-0.

Nevertheless, Scotland managed to pull themselves level with two goals in three minutes before half-time; Hamish Imrie pulled his side back into contention with a well-taken strike into the bottom corner in the 32nd minute, before Collins proved his penalty corner prowess with another drag-flick execution to make it 2-2 on the half-time whistle.

However, Ulster were back in front again with the first penalty corner of the second half; Peter McKibbin finishing off the set-piece at the back-post to give his side a 3-2 lead.

Collins again was to prove instrumental mid-way through the second half, scoring his second goal of the game from a penalty corner to put the Scots on parity at 3-3.

With seven minutes remaining, the penalty corner set-piece was again a thorn in the side of Scotland, with Ulster’s Rowan Poots scoring the winning goal and ultimately clinch the series.

Scotland U21 Women

As with their male counterparts, Scotland U21 Women lost their series 2-0, going down 3-2 in their first match before suffering a 2-0 loss in the final game.

In the opening encounter, it was Chloe Brown who registered the first goal with a well-executed drag-flick to give Ulster a 1-0 lead.

However, Katie Robertson brought Scotland level with a slight deflection to make it 1-1 before Zoe Sinclair gave the visitors a 2-1 half-time lead, striking the ball with precision into the back of the net.

Ulster levelled up the scores at 2-2 in the second half when Robyn Chambers dispatched an excellent reverse stick effort.

Reflecting similar fortunes to the men, a last minute goal was to prove the undoing for Scotland, Taite Docherty solo run culminating in a cool finish to leave the final score 3-2 to Ulster.

Both sides had chances to break the deadlock during a goal-less first half in today’s encounter, but defences were on top.

Nevertheless, the home side secured the opening goal shortly after half-time, Bethany Barr giving her side a 1-0 advantage.

Two minutes later, a drag-flick from Brown found the back of the net to leave the Scots trailing by two goals and a tough task to salvage a result.

Sadly, Scotland were unable to find that scoring touch in the second half, leaving the final score 2-0 to Ulster.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Monkstown win Leinster league title

Ireland’s Euro Hockey League representative Monkstown won their regional – the Leinster men’s division one – last Saturday with an 8-0 win over Rathgar Chiefs.

With nearest rival Pembroke losing 3-2 to Corinthian, it left the south Dublin team eight points clear of the chasing sides with one round of games to go.

It meant Monkstown won the title for the second year running after a 30-year wait. In the process, they qualified for the Irish Hockey League which will take on a full-season format for the first time next September.

From Leinster, Monkstown will be joined in the IHL by former EHL teams Pembroke and Glenanne while Three Rock Rovers will battle with Railway Union for the fourth qualifying place in the competition.

For the remainder of the season, the focus will be on winning the “old” format of the Irish Hockey League for a third successive season. That group phase of that competition restarts in three weeks time once Ireland finish their Hockey World League round two in San Diego.

Euro Hockey League media release

De Paeuw loving new challenge with Club Egara

Alexandre de Paeuw raised a couple of eyebrows when he made the decision to switch to Club Egara in Spain from Belgian top dogs the Waterloo Ducks but he is enjoying hugely this new phase in his career.

At the time of his switch, he had been outside of the national selection since the start of 2013 and conventional wisdom would have suggested that staying in Belgium would help keep his profile up with a view to future selection.

But he made the move and appears to have enjoyed a new lease of life, earning a place in the newly installed coach Jeroen Delmee’s Red Lions side for the Champions Trophy.

Reflecting on the change of scene, he says it is a very different setup to what he is used to with the Ducks but de Paeuw told the EHL website he is loving the different challenge in Spanish competition.

"Waterloo Ducks and Club Egara are really different clubs," he said. "First, the playing style is really not the same. The Ducks are playing a game of tactical and physical strength; Club Egara is more composed of players with a lot of skills and intuitions. It is really interesting to discover another hockey style.

"Also, you can’t really compare Waterloo Ducks and Club Egara as clubs because one of them is young and the other is existing for more than 80 years.

"Egara has a big history with great players and a lot of Olympians like Pol Amat,Edi Tubau and Quico Cortès. I love the atmosphere of this club."

He has been enjoying the mid-season preparations, too, with the Catalan weather allowing them a full set of training and practice games.

Many of his countrymen have been inundated with « asking if there is training due to snow or a frozen pitch » and he says it has Egara gearing up for a fight on three major fronts – the King’s Cup, the Spanish league playoffs and the EHL.

He has plenty of experience of the EHL, a competition that he would dearly like to go far in after plenty of highs and lows in the Ducks’ jersey in five seasons in the competition.

"I have a lot of memories of the EHL, some good, some less good! With the Ducks, we have been more than a little unlucky. Last year, we had our best victory beating Beeston 4-3 to reach the KO8 for the first time because we had waited for a moment like that so long.

"The worst memory came straight after when we lost to another Belgian side, Racing Club de Bruxelles. But every EHL game is really special and Belgian crowds are always present in big numbers, giving us huge pride."

Egara start their KO16 campaign in the opening game of the Easter festival against French champions St Germain and de Paeuw is looking forward to discovering another new hockey-style.

"We know that they are dominating the French league. French sides are physically good and it will be a tough fight but we have to assume to be the favourite.

"I guess the key of this game would be patience but I am confident, in an even game, we will take good care and never under-estimate our opponent."

Euro Hockey League media release

Thunderbolt take calculated risk in junior league quarters

By S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: Defending overall champions SSTMI-Thunderbolt’s decision to give up their home ground advantage may backfire on them in the quarter-finals of the MHC-Milo-NSC Junior Hockey League.

They have decided to play both legs (Friday and Sunday) at the Kangar Hockey Stadium which is the home venue of their opponents 1MAS Perlis.

But team manager Adam Izamry Idrus said they are not being foolish but practical.

“Our home ground is at Taman Daya in Johor Baru. Imagine if we play there on Friday and then make the long journey to Perlis for Sunday’s second leg before returning home to Johor Baru.

“It will be very tiring for my players. We had suggested that the matches be held in Bukit Jalil but Perlis want to have one match in Kangar.

“So this is the best option which will be more beneficial for us. It is not about being over-confident,” he said.

Adam said they are not underestimating their opponents.

“We respect all teams that have qualified for the knockout stage as they have earned it. Our main concern is to make sure the players are in the right frame of mind for the match.

“The players have done well to retain the league title but the job is not done yet,” he added.

The winners will play either Pahang SS-Thunderbolt or BJSS Juniors.

The Pahang team are confident of making the last four although this is their first time in the knockout stage.

“There shouldn’t be any problem for us as the Bukit Jalil team are made up of young players compared to our seasoned campaigners,” said the team’s assistant coach Mohd Madzli Ikmar.

“To make things easy for us we will kill the tie in the first leg itself.”

The Star of Malaysia

Can Max extend his Midas touch?

Gold at London 2012, gold in The Hague. What does Rio have in store for the Netherland’s men’s coach?

(Photo: FIH)

Max Caldas had a fantastic four years in charge of the Netherlands women’s national team, so good in fact that his employers, the Dutch Hockey Board (KNHB), want him to do it all over again with the men’s national team.

During his time, the Argentine and his players won Olympic gold in London, the Hockey World League 2014 and the 2014 World Cup, achievements that led to Max being crowned 2014 FIH Coach of the Year.

Here Max talks about winning the award, the secrets of his success and his plans for the future.

What does winning FIH Coach of the Year mean to you?

MC: It is a great honour, but I think it says a lot about the group of players that played in the Dutch team, not only the ones that played in the World Cup but also the ones that did not make it. And of course being a part of a hard-working and fun-loving staff too.

What have you learnt about yourself during your time with the women’s squad?

MC: I have learned a lot about myself, as a coach and as a person. I think there is a difference here because you are not defined by what you do. I have developed as Max the person but I also think working with a passionate and driven group of players forces you to keep on trying to provide better programs, training and topics to discuss. You have to be vulnerable at times, be the one that makes the hard choices, delegates. When you have discovered your strengths it is important to then stretch the things that cost the most energy, and go at them, every day.

What was your biggest moment as coach to the Netherlands women?

MC: It is very difficult to name one. I feel very responsible for the joy and sadness of the players and staff. Every little moment of happiness, it can be even in a training, in the private sphere in my relationship with the players or staff. The little things that happen every day, all of them are just as important for me as an Olympic Games or a World Cup.

What precipitated your move from the women’s national team to the men’s national team?

MC: The choice came down to family issues on the one hand and having the chance to do this job in the medium to long term too. My contract with the women stopped after Rio 2016, with the men that contract extends for at least another four years. I wanted to give my family this idea of ‘job security’. I also wanted the challenge of supporting progress already made (with the men’s team) but add new things to the equation too.

What are your coaching ambitions for the next few years?

MC: For the next four years I am where I am. I am very proud of the chance to help the men in their development. I do not do career planning, but every person has their dreams. At this point in time all of my dreams are to do with the Dutch men's team achieving excellence.

Who or what inspires you?

MC: I read, I listen and I watch a lot of sport – rugby, NFL, football – there are a lot of people that I admire or have the chance to follow or work with. I also made sure from day one that I build my own team of critics. I have a group of coaches, people from outside the sport, a personal coach who I bounce ideas off. They are critical and supportive when needed, and I talk to them fairly regularly. It is a very humbling experience every single time.

FIH site

French hockey legend Corbel passes away

PARIS: Former French international hockey player Georges Corbel has passed away at the age of 73, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) said on Tuesday.

With his club le FC Lyon, Corbel won the French Championship 10 years in a row between 1968 and 1977, an achievement that has not been matched since.

Corbel was selected for France for the first time aged 18 in 1960 and participated in three Olympic Games -- 1960 Rome, 1968 Mexico and 1972 Munich.

The Times of India

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