All the news for Thursday 26 May 2016
Argentina, USA, Canada and Chile to move on to Semi-Finals
The quarter-final matches kicked off with the number one seat from Pool A; Argentina, playing number four of Pool B; Guyana for the chance to move on to the semi-final round. The first half was played nearly exclusively in the Guyanese defensive end allowing Argentina to creatively construct six goals in the first half.
Guyana earned themselves a few penalty corners in the second half the match, but they were unable to find the back of the net. Argentina kept a steady flow of attack and matched their score line of the first half making for a 12-0 final score.
The Americans took on the Mexicans in the second game of the day. Mexico was first team to sustain possession and they scored a beautiful goal in the second minute when Daniel Rangel made a comfortable reception inside the circle, turned and rifled a shot into the bottom corner.
The USA reacted by putting the pressure on Mexico’s defenders to create multiple goal scoring opportunities. Mexico appeared unfazed when the Americans forced them to defend their half. Their composure carried over into their attacking play as David Terminel released a shot that was deflected into the net by teammate Irvin Chavez in the twenty-second minute.
USA, unwilling to let Mexico continue to pull ahead, worked their way back into Mexico’s circle. They were awarded a penalty corner, but it was the resulting long corner that they used to their advantage. George McGuigan received the ball inside the circle, popped it up and smashed the ball from thin air straight into the net. The half quickly ended leaving Mexico with a one goal lead at halftime.
Both teams seemed to stick to their game plan and played with unrelenting determination. Defensive proficiency on either end foiled any attempts on net until finally, the USA found their opening via penalty corner when a sweep hit was deflected high, once again, by George McGuigan.
The Americans rewarded themselves for equalizing the score by popping yet another goal into the opposition’s net with only three minutes to go. Mexico, devastated by their sudden disposition in a game they had worked so hard to claim, failed to create an effective attacking play and ended up sending the Americans through to the semi-finals by one point. Elated by their incredible come-back, team USA rushed the field after the final horn to celebrate their well-deserved victory.
A very tight match ensued between Canada and Trindad for the third game of the day with both teams being level in skill, speed and determination. Canada’s first goal resulted from Rohan Chopra picking up the ball in Trinidad’s corner, weaving around the sticks of the Trinidadian defenders and goalkeeper, then carrying the ball an extra yard for cautions’ sake before throwing it into the back of the net. With raised arms, Chopra flew birdlike into a pack of overjoyed Canadians to celebrate the upper hand they had obtained by taking the lead early in the match.
Trinidad did not allow this goal to disrupt their laser focus. Tariq Marcano managed to even up the score with a push on net that bounced past the Canadian keeper. The Canadians looked to their captain and drag flick expert; Brandon Pereria to regain their lead with a penalty corner just minutes before the first half came to a close. Pereira tucked the ball into the top corner of the net, pushing the score to 2-1 at halftime.
In the second half Trinidadian captain, Jordan Reynos, followed Pereira’s lead and netted another score-equalizing goal by flicking to the top corner of the Canadian net.
Determined to pull yet ahead; Canadian Thomson Harris completed a diving tip, sending the ball sailing into the backboard in the fifty-second minute.
In a last attempt to catch up, Trinidad put in a kicking back and managed to earned themselves a number of penalty corners in the final few minutes of the game. The pressure to convert appeared to be too much and they were unable to produce any goal from their opportunities. Canada earned their spot in the semi-finals with a 3-2 win over Trinidad and Tobago.
The last quarter-final game fell between Chile and Puetro Rico; first and fourth place in their pools respectively. Chile scored their first goal on lucky break when the umpire called a 16 yard hit for Puerto Rico, then reversed the call to a long corner for Chile. Chile was quick to take the hit but Puerto Rico had not yet recovered and they found themselves outnumbered by their opposition. Nils Stabucchi snuck past the defenders and redirected his teammates sweep hit into the net. Chile found the back of the net 3 more times before the halftime mark.
Puerto Rico made Chile work hard for their goals but it was Chile’s dominating speed that allowed them to break through defensive barriers and sink seven more goals before time ran out. The final score landed at 11-0 in favour of the Chileans.
The next round of matches will take place on Friday, May 27th. Guyana will play Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago will play Puerto Rico in the 5-8 crossover matches in the morning. Argentina will face team USA and the Canadians will take on Chile in the afternoon in hopes of landed themselves a spot in the gold medal game.
Pan American Hockey Federation media release
Canada advances to Junior Pan Am semifinal with win over Trinidad and Tobago
Canada’s Johnny Gill, Brandon Pereira, and Satbir Brar celebrate in Canada’s 3-2 win over Trinidad and Tobago on May 25 at the 2016 Junior Men’s Pan American Championship in Toronto (Photo: Yan Huckendubler)
Canada’s Under-21 Men’s National Team is one win away from Junior World Cup qualification after a 3-2 quarterfinal win over Trinidad and Tobago Wednesday at the Junior Men’s Pan American Championship in Toronto.
The Canadian men advance to the tournament semifinal against Chile on Friday (2:30pm PT/5:30pm ET). The winner of that semifinal earns a spot at the 2016 Junior Men’s World Cup in India later this year.
Thomson Harris scored the game winner in the 52nd minute on a setup by Shahbaaz Dhaliwal.
While Canada never trailed in the match, the game went back and forth with both teams generating offense from start-to-finish.
“The game is not going to be given to us, we’ve got to stay focused for 70 minutes,” says Canadian forward Rohan Chopra, who opened the scoring in the 13th minute. “And when it does dip, we’ve got to find a way to bounce back. Whether that takes us one minute or 50 minutes.”
Both teams managed a circle entry in the first few minutes, but neither was able to generate a scoring chance in the area or draw a penalty corner.
The Trinidadians were first to carry the play with a majority of possession in the first ten minutes, but strong defensive plays from Ganga Singh and Brandon Pereira helped Canada get away unscathed.
Canada then went on the offensive, generating multiple scoring chances which narrowly missed.
In the 11th minute, Kabir Aujla got behind the Trinidad and Tobago defenders and had a clean shot on goal that was stopped by keeper Cheon Steele.
A minute later, Amrit Sidhu unleashed a wicked backhand but his shot went wide.
Canada was able to convert in the 13th minute on an impressive individual effort from Chopra, who controlled the ball along the baseline, went around Steele and potted the ball into the top corner while falling to give Canada the game’s first goal.
Minutes later, the Canadians had a chance to add to the lead when Harris found Dhaliwal at the top of the circle and Dhaliwal let go a backhand that just missed.
With hot weather in Toronto, the game featured breaks around the quarter marks and at the first stoppage, Canada led 1-0.
The break helped Trindad gain its bearings after the Canadian pressure, and in the 21st minute Tariq Marcano scored on a quick hit from the top of the Canadian circle.
While Trinidad overcame two deficits in the match, Canada was also able to bounce back both times the Trinidadians tied.
In the 33rd minute, Brandon Pereira continued his dominance on the penalty corner as he put a high, hard flick into the top right corner of the net to re-establish Canada’s lead before half-time.
Trinidad tied early in the second half on a corner that went through the legs of keeper Iqwinder Gill, but the Canadians were not phased and immediately went back on the attack.
A spell of possession and two corners later, Dhaliwal and Harris connected for a field goal in the 52nd minute. Dhaliwal ran up the sidelines, into the circle and fed Harris who – while sliding – redirected the ball into the net for the 3-2 lead.
Trinidad and Tobago were given multiple corners after going down, but the Canadian corner defense stood strong, turning away all the attempts as Canada held on for the 3-2 victory.
With the win, Canada advances to the tournament semifinal against Chile on Friday. Canada and the Chileans met during pool play, with Chile taking a 2-1 win.
The other semifinal sees Argentina take on the United States.
Canada’s semifinal match can be watched live online Friday at 2:30pm PT/5:30pm ET.
Field Hockey Canada media release
Resiliency Shown as U-21 USMNT Defeats Mexico to Advance to the Jr. Pan Am Semifinals
Photo courtesy of PAHF
TORONTO, Canada - May 25, 2016 - The U.S. U-21 Men's National Team found form when it counted as they recorded a fantastic come-from-behind victory against Mexico in the Junior Men's Pan American Championship quarterfinals to book themselves a place in the semifinals.
The game got off to a shaky start as a Team USA defensive turnover presented Mexico with an opportunity inside the second minute – and they duly put it past USA's goalkeeper Nate O’Lari (Orange, Mass.) with a sharp strike from the top of the circle.
The U-21 USMNT regrouped and had chances in the circle but didn’t make the Mexico goalkeeper work. Some excellent defensive penalty corner running by Mexico also prevented Team USA from finding the back of the goal. Mexico continued to push, looking for a second goal, and their pressure eventually paid off. In the 22nd minute, a Mexico forward snuck in front of the USA defense at the back post to deflect home their second goal to make the score USA 0, MEX 2.
The young Team USA dug deep to respond to the two goal deficit - and respond they did. Pushing forward, Javieer Singh (Hayward, Calif.), Casey Walker (Ventura, Calif.) and Ethan LaSala (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) provided solid outlet options as Doug Allison (Westlake Village, Calif.) and Jaspreet Gill (Placentia, Calif.) looked to create space from the midfield. In the 33rd minute, USA central midfielder George McGuigan (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) struck to get Team USA back in the game. McGuigan took a short pass from a long corner, turned his defender and fired a shot into the bottom corner. This goal just before halftime gave Team USA momentum as they went into the halftime down, USA 1, MEX 2.
The second half would be the sternest test for the U-21 USMNT in the tournament. Knowing that they had to come away with a win, Team USA had to find a goal without losing shape and structure. Defensively, USA shined as Keeling Pilaro (Southhampton, N.Y.) constantly soaked up pressure and transitioned forward with the ball. Together with his teammates, Pilaro knew the game plan and stuck to it. Team USA knew that if they kept working hard and together, it would pay dividends. And it did.
A penalty corner with just five minutes to go came to Ruben van Dam (Valkenswaard, The Netherlands) and he swept the ball to McGuigan who deflected home the equalizer and his second goal of the game. This goal came while Team USA had a field player waiting on the sideline to sub-out the goalkeeper.
In the end, USA's goalkeeper O’Lari stayed in his net and had a prime view in the 67th minute to watch, Sean Cicchi (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) put in the go-ahead goal on a penalty corner drag-flick to make the score USA 3, MEX 2. With three minutes left in the match, Team USA controlled the momentum and secured the victory.
“I’m obviously delighted to make the semifinals but I’m even happier with how we executed the game plan," said Rutger Wiese, U-21 USMNT Head Coach, proudly of his team. "We never stopped working and because of that we knew chances would appear. Mexico gave us a fantastic game but I think we deserved the result in the end.”
The U.S. U-21 Men's National Team advances to the semifinals of the Junior Men's Pan Am Championships and will play Argentina on Friday, May 27 at 3:00 p.m. EST. Stream the game live here by clicking here.
USFHA media release
Police survive Red Card
By Jugjet Singh
NEWLY promoted Police saw red, but still managed to hold Razak Cup defending champion Malacca to a 2-2 draw in a highly tensed Division One Group A match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil Wednesday.
Malacca and Police ended with seven points, but the champions topped the group on a better goal average.
In another Division One Group B match, Perak held Terengganu 4-4 to top the group on seven points.
Perak will meet Police in the semi-finals on Friday, while Malacca will play Terengganu in the last four.
National player Azreen Rizal was flashed the red card in the 21st minute for using a vulgar word on umpire Nor Azhar Abiddin. But even with a man down, Police still showed that they are the team to beat in the 54th Edition.
National skipper Razie Rahim, who also lost his temper and was benched with a yellow, salvaged the match for Police with goals in the 14th and 53rd minutes.
The Malacca goals were scored by Firdaus Omar in the 27th minute, and Dedy Ariyadi in the 54th minute.
Police coach Gurmit Singh said: "I think the vulagar word was uttered in the heat of the moment and my player did not deserve a red card. Now we will miss a crucial player in the semi-finals."
Azreen played in the recent Azlan Shah Cup as a midfielder.
Malacca coach Azrul Effendy felt his side played the worst game of the tournament.
"This is our worse match and I know my players can play at a higher level. Hopefully we do not play the same in the semi-finals. We have been in centralised training for more than a month to defend out title, and having come so close, we don't want to lose our grip in the last four," said Azrul.
RESULTS: Division One: Group A: Malacca 2 Police 2, Pahang 4 Johor 3; Group B: Perak 4 Terengganu 4, Negri Sembilan 1 Kuala Lumpur 3.
Women's Group A: Pahang 4 Johor 1, Police 0 Sarawak 0; Group B: Kuala Lumpur 3 Terengganu 1, Armed Forces 4 Negri Sembilan 2; Group C: Malacca 4 Kedah 0, Perak 1 Penang 0.
THURSDAY: Division One - 5th-8th Placing: Pahang v Negri Sembilan (8pm, Pitch I); Johor v Kuala Lumpur (8pm, Pitch II).
Division Two - 5th-8th Placing: Selangor v Sarawak (6pm, Pitch 1), Sabah v Kedah (6pm, Pitch 2);
Women's Second Round - Group X: Pahang v Kuala Lumpur (7.30am, Pitch 1); Group Y: Selangor v Armed Forces (7.30am, Pitch2); Group M: Kedah v Sarawak (9.30am, Pitch 1); Penang v Sabah (9.30am, Pitch 2); 13th - 14th Placing: Police v Negeri Sembilan (6pm, Pitch 2).
Note: All Matches at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
RAZAK CUP: ‘Vulgar’ Police escape with draw after ANOTHER red card
NO WAY THROUGH: Players challenging for the ball during the match. Ten-man Police held on for a 2-2 draw against reigning champions Malacca. (PIX CREDIT: MALAYSIAN HOCKEY CONFEDERATION)
THEY are supposed to be models of discipline but Police have been anything but at the ongoing Razak Cup.
The men’s competition has seen only two reds being brandished, and both have been pulled out for Police’s players.
The first to receive his marching orders was Megat Azrafiq Termizi, whose bodoh slur at the umpire got him in hot water during the cops’ 4-3 victory over Pahang in Group A on Monday night.
On Wednesday, it was another policeman who shot him mouth off.
Police looked on course for an upset over Malacca – who seemed like they were “playing their worst match” of the tournament – when drag flick specialist Razie Rahim broke the deadlock with a penalty corner goal in the 14th minute.
In the 21st minute, Police’s national forward Azreen Rizal was sent off for being “vulgar”.
Malacca pounced on the advantage and equalised just six minutes later through a Firdaus Omar penalty corner goal.
Police were pegged back for the remainder of the match but did well to fend off the unrelenting onslaught by the defending champions.
In the 53rd minute, Police somehow regained their lead, with Razie Rahim scoring from a penalty corner to make it 2-1.
However, a lapse in concentration saw Dedy Ariyadi level the scores at 2-2 just a minute later, ensuring Malacca finished on top of Group A, ahead of second-placed Police on superior goal difference.
Despite Police’s ill discipline, coach Gurmit Singh chose to defend his player, saying “it was in the heat of the moment”.
“I think the vulgar word was uttered in the heat of the moment because Azreen was not happy with the umpire’s decision. My player did not deserve a red card … a yellow would have sufficed,” he said.
Gurmit said that although Police had achieved their target of reaching the last four, their semi-final tie against last year’s finallist Perak had been made more difficult without the services of his key forward, who will serve a one-match ban.
“Now we will miss a crucial player in the semi-finals.
“Anyway, with 10 men, we played well to hold Malacca to a draw. So, there is no doubt we have the quality,” he added.
Malacca 2 Police 2
Pahang 4 Johor 3
Perak 4 Terengganu 4
Negri Sembilan 1 Kuala Lumpur 3.
Group A: Pahang 4 Johor 1, Police 0 Sarawak 0; Group B: Kuala Lumpur 3 Terengganu 1, Armed Forces 4 Negri Sembilan 2; Group C: Malacca 4 Kedah 0, Perak 1 Penang 0.
Division One – 5th-8th Placing: Pahang v Negri Sembilan (8pm, Pitch I); Johor v Kuala Lumpur (8pm, Pitch II).
Division Two – 5th-8th Placing: Selangor v Sarawak (6pm, Pitch 1), Sabah v Kedah (6pm, Pitch 2);
Women’s Second Round – Group X: Pahang v Kuala Lumpur (7.30am, Pitch 1); Group Y: Selangor v Armed Forces (7.30am, Pitch2); Group M: Kedah v Sarawak (9.30am, Pitch 1); Penang v Sabah (9.30am, Pitch 2); 13th – 14th Placing: Police v Negeri Sembilan (6pm, Pitch 2).
Kaki Hoki Malaysia
Police forward Azreen to miss Razak Cup semis after seeing red
By Aftar Singh
KUALA LUMPUR: Police forward Azreen Rizal Nasir must be kicking himself for getting sent off in the Razak Cup Group A match against defending champions Malacca.
The national forward was shown the red card for using foul language on umpire Nor Azhar Abiddin in the 21st minute of the tense match, which ended 2-2, at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Wednesday.
Azreen, who played in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh last month, faces a one-match suspension.
Both teams had already qualified for the semi-finals prior to Wednesday’s match.
Malacca top Group A with a better goal difference and will face Group B runners-up Terengganu in Friday’s semi-finals.
Police, last year’s Division Two champions, will take on Perak in the other semi-final.
In Group B matches, last year’s runners-up Perak drew 4-4 against Terengganu while Kuala Lumpur defeated Negri Sembilan 3-1.
National defender Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim gave Police the lead in the 14th minute off a penalty corner.
Seven minutes later, Azreen was red carded for using foul language against umpire while Razie was flashed the yellow card in the 24th minute for arguing with umpire K. Lingam.
Malacca equalised with a field goal by Muhd Firdaus Omar in the 27th minute, but Police regained the lead with another penalty corner conversion by Razie in the 53rd.
Hardly a minute later, Malacca equalised through Dedy Ariyadi Jumaidi.
Two Malacca players – B. Namasivayam and Firdaus – were also shown the yellow card in the 52nd and 57th minutes for rough tackles.
Police coach Gurmit Singh admitted that his team’s performance would be affected in the semi-finals with the absence of Azreen.
“Azreen uttered vulgar words as he was unhappy with the umpire’s decision,” said Gurmit.
“The umpire should have given him a yellow card.
“Anyway, with 10 men, we played well for 39 minutes to hold Malacca to a draw. We have achieved our target of reaching the semi-finals.
The Star of Malaysia
Punjab humble Islamabad in National U-18 Hockey
ISLAMABAD - Punjab Blues humbled Islamabad 7-0 in the 1st National U-18 Hockey Championship fourth match played here at Naseer Bunda International Hockey Stadium on Wednesday.
Punjab dominated the first quarter and put Islamabad under enormous pressure.
They were given huge boost as scrutiny committee allowed Wasim Akram to play.
Wasim was the main difference between both the teams, as he not only scored a hat-trick, but also remained instrumental in helping Punjab score other goals as well.
Adeel scored the first goal for Punjab in the 10th minute on Wasim’s pass.
Despite enjoying lime share of possession and playing entire quarter in Islamabad half, Punjab failed to add further goals to finish the first quarter having 1-0 lead.
Wasim continued his superb form in the second quarter too as he slammed his first and team’s second goal in the 18th minute, then he provided a wonderful pass to Abid Bhatti in the 22nd minute, which Abid duly converted to make it 3-0.
Wasim then hammered a superb goal in the 26th minute and then completed his well-deserving hat-trick in the 28th minute to make it 5-0.
Islamabad regrouped and made some delightful moves and in the third quarter.
They were awarded four plenty corners, but they failed to take advantage as the quarter remained goalless.
Punjab started the fourth and last quarter in style as they added two further goals in their total tally – one through Ilyas in the 47th minute and other through Arshad Liaqat in 7th minute – to finish the match having impressive 7-0 lead.
KP Whites, after successfully managed to blackmail tournament organising committee, brushed aside Sindh Colours 5-1 in the earlier match played at the same venue.
KP Whites skipper Hamza was star of the day, as he scored a hat-trick.
Amir Farooq opened the scoring for KP in the 7th minute while Hamza hammered two goals for his team in the 17th and 19th minutes to make it 3-0.
Ehtesham enhanced KP’s lead to 4-0 and Hamza completed his hat-trick in the 50th minute to make it 5-0.
Hammad Rizwan scored the consolation goal for Sindh to finish the match at 5-1.
Meanwhile, all the tall claims made by the tournament director Col (R) Ahmed Nawaz Malik, regarding upholding rule of law and not to bow down under pressure regarding age scrutiny, were blown up in air.
Not only KP’s but Punjab players were also allowed to participate in the tournament.
When this scribe contact the tournament director in this regard, Col Ahmed (R) replied: “Firstly, according to documents, we allow another 10 players to participate from their respective teams.
Secondly, the young chaps came to me with tear in their eyes, I was not able to say no to them and allowed only those players, who had complete documentary evidences, while 14 players were not allowed to take part in the event.”
The source confirmed to this scribe that Col (R) Ahmed was packing his luggage and was not ready to compromise on principle stance, but Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) intervened and requested him not to sabotage the event and let the players, who had documentary evidence, play and don’t insist on medical tests.”
“If the PHF can’t take principle stance on age issues and other minor issues, how can they provide justice and rights to the deserving players.
A number of participating teams raised questions over the criteria and showed huge doubts about the injustices being witnessed in the championship,” the sources added.
Another huge set back to organisers claims were witnessed during the KP Whites and Sindh Colours match, when KP manager Zia-ur-Rehman Buneri, after getting upset at the umpire’s decision, went to the ground jury and started abusing it for not accepting his demand and warned them of dire consequences.
He is the same gentleman, who, a day earlier, threatened to boycott the event.
When this scribe contacted the tournament director to seek his point of view in this regard, Ahmed said: “Yes, we were not only sitting in the ground but the spectators also heard the language used by Zia.
I had taken notice on the written complaint lodged by the jury and the opponent team.
We have barred Zia from entering the premises of the stadium and recommended that tough action should be taken against the guilty person.
I am confident the PHF would take serious notice and the person should be properly dealt with.”
146 Teams to Compete at the 45th California Cup International Field Hockey Tournament on Memorial Day Weekend
By Jawwad Qamar
The 2016 California Cup International Hockey Tournament begins on Thursday afternoon with the start of competition in the super divisions at Moorpark College where both men and women will be competing for the winner take all $7,500 prize.
146 teams from six nations will participate at the 2016 California Cup International Field Hockey Tournament starting on May 26th, at Moorpark College. The 45th edition of one of the oldest and largest field hockey tournaments in the world, more popularly known as the Cal Cup, will feature teams from Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the USA, consisting of over 2,300 athletes competing in 14 divisions ranging from Mixed Under-8 to Men/Women Super Divisions. Competition will take place at Moorpark College, Arroyo Vista Community Park, and Moorpark High School from May 26 through May 30.
Mates4Mates Australian Warriors and Team HFS will get the ball rolling at 3:50 pm on Thursday with the opening match of the tournament in the Men’s Super Division. After an Under-19 men’s contest, the Mates4Mates Australian Warriors women will take on Straight Ballin’ at 6 pm to start play in the Women’s Super Division.
Cal Cup is the premier field hockey tournament held annually in the United States under the auspices of the Field Hockey Federation and California Cup Organizing Committee.
In addition to $7,500 top prize in each Super Division, all players in the top three teams of each division will receive Gold, Silver, or Bronze medals.
For schedule and directions to the venues, please visit www.calcup.com.
Chasing The Dream with USWNT Athlete Jill Witmer
Maybe her patience on the pitch is from the accumulation of moments over the last 25 years of waiting behind horse and buggies.
Perhaps the impressive accuracy she taps into for game-changing goals was developed from her earlier days of zoning in on sky-high clay bird targets with a shotgun.
Suppose that waking up early on a farm, bailing hay, working the fields, feeding cows, horses and rabbits play into her fifth-gear work ethic on USA’s forward line.
Country to the core, Jill Witmer is proud of where she came from and where she’s going.
The U.S. Women’s National Team attacker joined the squad in 2013, right when the centralized training program made the tremendous move from the sandy beaches of Chula Vista, Calif. to the weather-battered barns and cornfields of Lancaster, Pa. It wasn’t really a transition for Witmer, but rather like a sign that she was doing the right thing, at the right time. It’s not everyday your goal or purpose or passion travels thousands of miles to the front door of your hometown. In Witmer’s case, the timing or the location couldn’t be more perfect.
“The news was unbelievable, almost too good to be true,” said Witmer. “I grew up in Lancaster. My parents are here. My family is here. My friends are here. And now I get the chance to train here.”
But Witmer was on a team long before she joined the red, white and blue. She grew up with three brothers, Jon, Joe and Jeremy, and one sister, Jocelyn. Sharing a last name and home address with all of those on this roster of five, Witmer attributes her competitive nature to the frequent backyard games with her siblings.
“We’re all close in age, with only two years a part between all of us, so there was always something going on and something we were getting into,” said Witmer. “We’d play whiffle ball, capture the flag and football. We would even make up games. We loved and still love challenging each other.”
Somewhere between riding on four wheelers, canoeing and dirt bikes, playing in the creeks and tending to the farm, Witmer found field hockey.
Witmer’s interest in the sport started simple through the encouragement of her parents. What blossomed out of that supportive push were an onslaught of personal, team and international accomplishments. She competed with the U-19 and U-21 U.S. Teams, travelling throughout the world. A University of Maryland graduate, Witmer’s fearless style of play makes her a formidable opponent on the forward line for Team USA. She was a member of the gold medal squad at the 2014 Champions Challenge and part of the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup team that burst onto the international stage with a fourth place finish. Besides her superior stick work in the attack circle, an undeniable trait Witmer’s opponents try to contain, another strength her teammates try to utilize is her speed.
Running through the woods, chasing her sister and brothers gave Witmer an advantage while playing backyard games. While the adolescent Witmer thought she was simply just out running or trying to keep up with them, she was really molding herself into one of the quickest athletes in town. Her club coach recognized her wheels and her sharp shooting. The forward line has been permanent property for Witmer ever since.
“I don’t have a signature move or celebration after scoring,” said Witmer. “If anything, I look for the person who gave the assist. I love hugging them. I love hugging anyone. I get such a big thrill from scoring, but I don’t like all of the attention. The way I see it is we all got the ball up there. I was just the final touch.”
With a more than ideal pairing in Witmer’s eyes, her hometown and hockey hold a special time in her past and future.
“I remember coming back from college and immediately getting this indescribable feeling,” said Witmer. “Seeing the cornfields and the farms and being on the back roads just fills a person up. There is nothing like Lancaster.”
USFHA media release
Peillat a huge addition to Mannheimer's line-up
Fresh from EHL qualification, Mannheimer HC have announced the big addition to their panel for the 2016/17 season of Argentina’s sharp-shooter Gonzalo Peillat.
The 23-year-old makes the switch from HGC in the Netherlands to Mannheim following a superb season, scoring 33 goals – including 27 corners – in the Hoofdklasse.
He moves in tandem with his girlfriend Florencia Habif, switching from Pinoké, and adds to the club’s South American influence, linking up with Guido Barreiros.
Speaking about the coup, MHC’s sports director Peter Lemmen said: "Peillat was our desired target, a young player with great potential which will raise our level again and we hope he will be with the club long term."
Euro Hockey League media release
Varsity hockey champs switch focus
By Coetzee Gouws
After securing their second successive Varsity Hockey title on Monday, the University of Johannesburg will immediately switch their focus to other objectives when they return to the Southern Gauteng premier league this week.
“We will actually be playing league again this weekend, against Wits,” said UJ coach Garreth Ewing, “and then we begin the build-up towards Ussa.”
The University Sport South Africa tournament will take place in Johannesburg from July 4 to 9, where Tuks will be defending their title.
“We only came fifth last year. We had a tough pool and didn’t get through it,” said Ewing.
“It is a difficult tournament with only eight sides, so it’s a bit of a hit and run affair. It will be interesting, but playing in Johannesburg will be to our advantage.”
Meanwhile, the university’s women’s team will be hoping to defend the title they won last year.
UJ, who won the inaugural biennial Varsity Hockey tournament in 2014, defeated Tuks 4-2 in a thrilling and tense final at the UJ astro.
While they went through the tournament unbeaten, the result of the final was in the balance until the closing stages.
Leading 3-2 with just minutes remaining, UJ conceded a penalty corner, but Le-Neal Jackson stormed out in the first wave, blocked the ball and set off on a run upfield.
His first shot was blocked by Tuks substitute goalkeeper Keagan du Preez, but the rebound fell to Tyson Dlungwana, who buried the ball in the goal to make it 4-2 with just seconds remaining.
Reflecting on the tournament, Ewing said they were thrilled to win the title again.
“I think it’s really good for us in terms of momentum for the rest of the season and it’s nice to know that the consistency of what we do is still paying off.
“We work really hard at getting good players in and at our conditioning, so it’s nice to have that pay off for us.”
Ewing said the varsities were evenly matched.
“On the day anyone can win, but we are happy to take this title again. It’s a really special thing to do.
“The guys were quite nervous, but very focused. We just had to manage a couple of the Tuks attacks and then take our chances when they came.
“We knew we would make chances and we did. Their goalie played exceptionally well to keep them in the game for as long as he did, but our guys were really up for it.”
Varsity Sports media release
Keeping the ball rolling: bigger and better Hockey Superleague back in 2016
THE Orange New South Wales Men’s Hockey Association John Davis Motors Hockey Superleague is back and with the kinks from last year’s inaugural tournament ironed out Scott Baker, the brains behind the concept, is confident this year’s edition will be bigger and better.
As per last year’s competition, the 2016 Superleague will feature the Renault Royals, Mazda Maulers, Suzuki Strikers and Volvo Vikings playing shortened, attack-based, round-robin games - a format Baker described as “Twenty20 cricket for hockey” last year.
But this year, based on feedback from players and spectators Baker and his fellow organisers have modified a few rules and streamlined the drafting and scheduling process ahead of the first round on Sunday, June 5.
Already Baker said there is a substantially increased interest compared to last year.
“At this stage last year we had 35 players and I was concerned. This year we have almost 50, and we may face a problem of having too many players, that would be a good problem to have though,” Baker enthused.
“Player excitement is great, everyone’s looking forward to this as the highlight of the season. The young guys like trying to show the older guys new tricks and the older boys like showing the young guys they’ve still got it. It’s a good measuring stick for the lower grade players playing against Premier League Hockey players too.
“It’s effectively the same format, just some small tweaks after feedback through the off-season. We’ve adopted the scoring structure from the Indian Hockey League, two points for a normal goal, one for a penalty goal.
“We’ve eliminated the goal from outside the circle from the feedback, but we’ll have our other novelty rules in place like the joker players and bonus goals.”
The Renault Royals claimed last year’s inaugural title, but with the competition’s draft system it remains a lottery as to which side will be stamped as premiership favourites leading into the first round.
“The process will be selecting out of hats for Premier League Hockey players, first graders, second graders and so on, this should make the reams as equal as possible,” Baker said.
“Once teams are picked we will have trade options, to make sure a team isn’t stacked with too many players from one position and to ensure each team has goalkeeper options and so on.”
The skippers of the sides are to be the same as last year, with Daryl Kennewell to lead the Royals, Adam Hurford to skipper the Maulers, Alex Said to lead the Strikers and Darryn Marjoram to captain the Vikings.
The 2016 Superleague draft is scheduled for this Friday at 7pm, at the Ophir Tavern. Any interested players should contact Baker.
Central Western Daily
SA Hockey announces Grays as its new technical apparel sponsor
The South African Hockey Association (SAHA) has officially unveiled Grays as its exclusive technical apparel partner for the next five years.
The Grays apparel sponsorship, which runs until the end of 2020, covers all SAHA outdoor representative teams - from under 18 through to the senior men’s and women’s international squads, all teams participating in the forthcoming SA National Hockey League, as well as SAHA coaches and match officials.
As part of the partnership, Grays has the exclusive right to produce official SA Hockey replica wear, supporters wear, fashion wear and other key hockey products and will also be launching an official SA Hockey endorsed e-commerce platform later this year.
SAHA will earn a percentage of all revenue generated from these new revenue streams.
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Grays on board as our official apparel partner. Grays is an iconic and global hockey brand and their partnership is a massive endorsement of our vision and strategy for hockey in South Africa. We are especially excited by their plans for the e-commerce platform, which is due to launch towards the end of this year,” said Marissa Langeni, CEO of SAHA.
Grays and its South African distribution partner, Leisure Holdings, are equally optimistic about the new partnership.
“Everyone at Grays is delighted to have secured South African hockey. Grays is the world’s leading hockey brand and as such is perfectly placed to support the exciting growth of hockey in South Africa.” added Richard Gray, Sales and Marketing Director at Grays.
“We really believe in the South African hockey revolution and see a sport that is on an upwards curve, from an interest and participation perspective. This is a true business partnership, with SAHA incentivised to help us grow the Grays brands in South Africa. We look forward to a very productive long term relationship,” concluded Brett Burnill, Director of Leisure Holdings.
SA Hockey Association media release