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News for 29 September 2017

All the news for Friday 29 September 2017

50 Days To Go: Dutch superstar admits team fear no-one at World League Finals

Caia van Maasakker is relishing the challenge of playing the world's top teams in Auckland Photo: FIH/Getty Images

With 50 days until the Women's Hockey World League Final in New Zealand, Dutch star Caia van Maasakker admits her team fears no one ahead of season finale in Auckland.

Caia van Maasakker is one of the best penalty corner specialists in the world. The fact that she plays for the number one ranked side in the world adds to an aura of invincibility that surrounds the Dutch defender whenever she strides onto the pitch.

Away from the turf, van Maasakker is engaging and funny but you still detect the characteristics of a born winner when she says that she is looking forward immensely to the forthcoming Hockey World League Final in Auckland, and that currently no other team holds any fear for her or her colleagues.

Off the back of a dominating performance at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final in Brussels, Belgium and an equally strong win at the Rabobank EuroHockey Championships in August, that is no real surprise. It may however cause the other seven nations in Auckland some concern to learn that van Maasakker feels the team is getting stronger by the day.

She said: "We started with a new group before Brussels and we have been growing together as a group since then. We have been working hard at getting everyone travelling in the same direction. We have also been developing a real belief in each other.

"We had a week off after Brussels and then, of course, we were preparing for the EuroHockey Championships. Then we started training for three days every week as well as our club training, but it is really fun."

The Netherlands are travelling to Australia first to play some warm-up matches and to acclimatise to a different time zone, but van Maasakker is certain her team will be ready to face all-comers.

"Out in New Zealand we will be up against some of the best teams in the world, but most teams are in their post-Olympic year and still building. Of course we always have great matches against Argentina but I am also looking forward to playing the USA and New Zealand because we don’t play them so often. Germany and England, we know better."

When asked if there was any player who she just didn’t like playing against, in true champion's style she laughed the question off. "There is no one player who I think 'Oh-no, she is going to get past me'. As you play on the international stage for longer, you get to know the players and how they will challenge you but that is all part of the fun. Argentina's Delfina Merino, for example, she is a great player and I know her well because we play at our club together, but I see her as a challenge not a fear and that is really cool."

van Maasakker admits taking on Argentina's Delfina Merino will be a challenge Photo: WSP/Stanislas Brochier

The Dutch defender says the Hockey World League Finals hold a special place in players’ hearts. It is a great opportunity for the best teams in the world to play against each other and assess where they stand. For her, the qualities that she feels puts the Dutch ahead of many of their rivals is the ethos of hard-work and working for each other - that is at the core of the team. This is something that has always been part of the 'Ojanje' mentality and it is something that new players quickly learn.

Her final quote served to underline the commitment levels of this team of world beaters. She concluded: "I have never been to New Zealand and I am really looking forward to it but this is first, foremost and totally about the hockey and making sure that we are focused and playing the very best we can."

To see the current World and European champions live in action, get your tickets for the Women's Hockey World League Final now by clicking here.

FIH site

National teams intensify training ahead of Nations Cup


The national men's hockey team coach Meshack Senge watches his players during a training session on September 4, 2017 at City Park Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) on Thursday rescheduled some of this weekend’s league fixtures to accommodate the national team's training schedule.

The move will now see six matches played this weekend instead of the initial 14 that had originally been planned.

The men’s and women’s teams are preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations set for Ismailia, Egypt from October 19-29. The teams, which began non-residential training at the end of July, have been training twice a week.

However, men and women’s national team coaches Meshack Senge and Willis Otieno requested the union for more time with the squads as they enhance preparations for next month’s continental showpiece which will see the winning men and women’s team qualify for next year’s World Cup.

The teams will now have this Saturday and Sunday on top of their weekly trainings as the coaches look set to cut down the provisional squads to a final 18 with less than three weeks left to the biennial competition.

Senge welcomed the move but noted that it is still not enough to adequately get the teams ready for the competition.

“We put in the request very early and I am glad the union has acted to give us this chance. Time is running out and we need to fully maximise on the time we have left,” Senge told Nation Sport.


The men’s team faces an uphill task as they battle with champions South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe for the continental bragging rights as well as the sole ticket to next year’s World Cup.

The country has yet to win the competition, finishing second four times and third another three times.

“We also need to play high profile friendlies because our opponents are also seriously preparing for the competition,” Senge added.

The men’s team has played at two World Cups – 1971 and 1973, while the women’s team has yet to feature at the global showpiece. Both teams won bronze at the last edition held in South Africa in 2015.

Otieno, who took over the women’s team from Nixon Nyangaga, also welcomed the move by the federation and is confident the sides can do well in Egypt.

“I hope they will extend it to the other weekends because we have little time and so much fine tuning to do with the teams,” the former international said.

With South Africa already booking their World Cup slot, Ghana and Kenya will be favourites to bag the women’s continental ticket.

Daily Nation

AHL Day One Round-up & Highlights

Ben Somerford

Reigning premiers Victoria Vikings survived an early scare against South Australia to record a big win on day one of the Australian Hockey League (AHL) at Perth Hockey Stadium on Thursday.

The Vikings trailed 2-0 after the first period following goals from Hotshots pair Luke Larwood (12’) at the back post and Kurtis Willson (14’) from a penalty corner.

Victoria begun their comeback just before half-time with captain Chris Ciriello (30’) before racing to an emphatic 8-2 triumph.

Goals to Victoria’s Kookaburras trio Aaron Kleinschmidt (33’), Kiran Arunasalam (41’) and Josh Pollard (42’) make it 4-2 at the final break.

Kleinschmidt (47’ and 50’) added another two to complete his own hat-trick, while Arunasalam (51’) grabbed another along with Andrew Scanlon (57’).

Elsewhere, Queensland Blades came back from a goal down to clinch a see-sawing 4-3 win over Tasmania Tigers.

Kieron Arthur hit a hat-trick for Tasmania, opening the scoring after 12 minutes.

Dylan Wotherspoon (19’) and Joel Rintala (27’) responded before the main interval, with the latter making it 3-1 after 39 minutes.

Tasmania weren’t done, with Arthur scoring late in the third, before equalising after 48 minutes.

Robert Bell would respond for the Suns, scoring the decisive goal in the 50th minute.

Elsewhere, the WA Thundersticks were too good for Northern Territory, triumphing 3-1 in the late game.

Trent Mitton (10’) and Tom Wickham (11’) scored within a minute of each other in the first period, with emerging young gun Liam Flynn (51’) adding a third. Jared Taylor (56’) scored a consolation goal for the Stingers.

NSW stormed home against ACT to claim a 3-0 win, with all three goals scored in the fourth period via Lachlan Sharp (49’), Nic McEwen (56’) and Tom Craig (59’).

On Friday, Victoria plays New Zealand (1pm all times WST), Tasmania faces South Australia (5pm) and WA meets India (7pm).

In the Women’s division, the WA Diamonds fought back from 2-0 down to claim an exciting 4-2 victory over the Canberra Strikers.

Goals to Laura Gray (19’) and Ashleigh Deacon (24’) had the Strikers in the box seat but WA responded after half-time.

Katy Clarke (31’) pulled a goal back shortly after the break, before Penny Squibb (33’, 38’ and 49’) scored a hat-trick to seal the result in front of the home crowd.

New Hockeyroos captain Emily Smith scored as NSW Arrows defeated Tasmania 2-0 in the early game.

Smith (25’) showed composure inside the shooting circle to open the scoring, before Abigail Watson (52’) added the second from a penalty corner.

Reigning champions Queensland defeated NT Pearls 5-0, despite a second period yellow card to Stephanie Kershaw.

Renee Taylor (36’and 52’) scored a double, while Kirstin Dwyer (2’), Ashlea Fey (53’) and Kazzia Lammon (57’) were also on the scoresheet.

Victoria defeated SA 4-1 with Sarah Breen (24’), Hannah Gravenall (39’), Emily Hurtz (42’) and Madi Ratcliffe (43’) scoring for the Vipers, while Miki Spano (49') scored the Suns.

On Friday, Victoria meet India (3pm), Queensland take on New Zealand (5pm) and Tasmania faces South Australia (7pm).

Hockey Australia media release

India 'A' men and women's teams to begin AHL campaign

PERTH: The India 'A' men and women's teams will begin their campaign at the 2017 Australian Hockey League on Friday.

While the men's team, led by Vikas Dahiya, will take on Western Australia in their Pool B encounter, the women's team, captained by Preeti Dubey, will play against Victoria in their opening match in Pool B.

Having arrived on Sunday, the teams have had the required time to get used to the playing conditions at the venue.

"Since we arrived on Sunday, we got a good number of practice sessions here along with two practice matches that has set the momentum for the team," stated V Baskaran, coach for the India 'A' men's team.

In their two practice matches against Victoria, also the defending champions, and Queensland, India 'A' men's team drew 2-2 and 0-0 respectively. It was forward Affan Yousuf and drag flicker Amit Rohidas who scored for the team in the first match.

It's the team's positive approach and hunger to give their 100 per cent in all areas is what gives them the edge, feels Baskaran.

"This set of men bring great energy on the pitch. I believe if we play our best hockey, results will follow. The team has been in a positive frame of mind and we are looking forward to our first game on Friday," Baskaran said.

The women's team, on the other hand, is eager to learn from the exposure of playing in the prestigious AHL. In their first practice match, the India 'A' women drew with New South Wales 0-0 and lost their second match 0-1 to Australian Capital Territory.

"The team will play with no pressure of expectations as it's important for this young team to soak in the experience of playing top quality teams in the tournament and stand up to the challenge. I am looking forward to seeing how the team shapes up through the League," expressed Baljeet Singh Saini, coach of the India 'A' women's team.

The Times of India

Women’s Masters All Ready To Go

Ben Somerford

The Australian Women’s Masters Hockey Championships get underway in Newcastle on Friday 29 September running through to Saturday 7 October.

The tournament brings together teams from all states with 41 sides competing across seven age-specific divisions at Newcastle International Hockey Centre.

Hockey Australia Chief Executive Matt Favier said: “Hockey Australia thanks the Newcastle City Council for its support in hosting the upcoming Women’s Masters Hockey Championships and next year’s Men’s edition too.

“These tournaments are always a great celebration of hockey, bringing together vast numbers of players who love the game from across the country.”

Images will uploaded regularly throughout the tournament on Hockey Australia’s Facebook page and results will be updated via Hockey Australia's Twitter page and hockeyaustralia.altiusrt.com.

Hockey Australia media release

Kazan have the edge over Elektrostal after Russian final first leg

Dinamo Kazan took the lead in their opening Russian Super League final series against Dinamo Elektrostal with Pavel Golubev’s late pair of goals earning a 3-1 victory.

The tie was even for much of the game with Kazan taking the lead thanks to Alexander Korolev’s goal before Evgeny Artemov levelled the tie for Elektrostal (pictured).

But, after three yellow cards came between the 53rd and 55th minutes – two for Elektrostal, one for Kazan – Golubev fired to victory.

The sides will meet in leg number two of their final on Saturday. Should Elektrostal win that, it means the game will go to a third leg on Sunday.

For Elektrostal, it provides a high quality final build-up to the EHL ROUND1 in Barcelona where they will play Cardiff & Met and Uhlenhorst Mulheim.

They reached the final with a 3-1 win over Dinamo Stroitel with goals from Dimitry Laptev, Nikita Dvoretsky and Marat Khairullin.

Speaking after that tie, head coach Igor Shishkov said: “Once again, Dinamo Elektrostal has shown that it is one of the best teams in Russia together with Dinamo Kazan.

“These two clubs define the men's hockey in our championship. I think that the Russian team will be formed on the basis of these two clubs and the coaching staff is likely also to be drawn from these leading Russian teams.”

Euro Hockey League media release

Clifton Robinsons look to continue good start to the season

Clifton Robinsons in defensive action versus Leicester last weekend. Credit Peter Smith

After securing an emphatic victory over Leicester in their season opener, Clifton Robinsons take on reigning champions Surbiton in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division on Saturday.

Clifton Robinsons will need to be on top form as they head to Sugden Road to take on a side who lost just once last season on their way to the title.

“They will be gunning for us having dropped two points last weekend,” said Clifton Robinsons team manager Alistair Kilfoil. “But we played really well at their place last season, so hopefully we can do well again and take something from the game.”

A raft of new signings have boosted Clifton Robinsons squad. Following a year in New Zealand and a spell in Scotland last season, Fiona Burnet has rejoined the club and kick-started her tenure with two goals in the opening win against Leicester.

Three Welsh internationals have signed up in Tash Marke-Jones, Sophie Clayton and Lisa Daley, while full-back Liv Hopkisson joins from Beeston and Holly Savage has signed for Clifton after playing at Firebrands in 2016-17.

And three juniors have joined the first XI squad in forward Vicky McCabe, midfielder Ellie Emo and full-back Louisa Bell.

But Clifton Robinsons have lost the services of Louise Laity and Danielle Jordan, while Jo Carter and Jess Bloom are both pregnant and not expected back until at least the new year.

“We had a hard and full-blooded pre-season campaign which really helped,” added Kilfoil. “Because of all the changes in personnel we didn’t really manage to have any decent training sessions where everyone was present until the last week, so we were pleased at how things went against Leicester.”

Elsewhere, Canterbury will be aiming to build on their strong defensive performance against Surbiton last weekend when they go to Buckingham, while Leicester are aiming to bounce back from their defeat to Clifton Robinsons with a home game against East Grinstead.

Holcombe are at home against the University of Birmingham, while Slough are on the road to Bowdon Hightown.

Last season’s champions Brooklands Poynton head to Liverpool Sefton in the Investec Conference North, while Sutton Coldfield – who also won 3-1 last week – are also away, at Timperley.

Last season’s champions Wimbledon lost their opening match to Sevenoaks last weekend, but will be aiming to secure their first points of the season when they go to Cambridge City in the Investec Conference East on Saturday.

And in the Investec Conference West, Olton and West Warwicks face a tough match against last season’s runners-up Stourport, who won five-nil away from home last weekend, while Olton lost at home.


Saturday, September 30 2017

Investec Women’s Hockey League

Investec Premier Division
Buckingham v Canterbury 12:00
Leicester v East Grinstead 13:30
Bowdon Hightown v Slough 13:45
Holcombe v Univ of Birmingham 14:00
Surbiton v Clifton Robinsons 14:00

Investec Conference North
Univ of Durham v Ben Rhydding 12:00
Liverpool Sefton v Brooklands Poynton 12:30
Timperley v Sutton Coldfield 12:30
Fylde v Loughborough Students 13:30

Investec Conference East
Hampstead & Westminster v Barnes 13:30
Harleston Magpies v St Albans 14:00
Bedford v Chelmsford 14:30
Cambridge City v Wimbledon 15:30
Sevenoaks v Southgate 17:00

Investec Conference West
Gloucester City v Trojans 12:00
Oxford Hawks v Isca 12:00
Swansea City v Team Bath Buccaneers 12:00
Reading v Cannock 13:30
Stourport v Olton & West Warwicks 16:00

England Hockey Board Media release

Irish EY Hockey League Returns This Weekend

The third edition of the EY Hockey League (EYHL) tips off this Saturday as the elite men’s and women’s competition rides the crest of the hockey wave in Ireland.

The third edition of the EY Hockey League (EYHL) gets off to a belated start this weekend as the elite men’s and women’s competition look to hit the ground running.

The first two weekends of the season were postponed as Hockey Ireland and the Irish Hockey Umpires Association discussed ways to improve the development of officialdom for the sport.

With an important agreement now in place, the action can begin in earnest as hockey looks to ride the crest of a wave from the summer months.

Over the summer, the Irish men continued their rise on the world stage, qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1990 thanks to their efforts at the World League Semi-Finals in Johannesburg.

The women look set to follow them in ending their wait to reach the World Cup – theirs dating back to 2002 – with official confirmation of their ticket to London 2018 likely to come through in October.

It is against that backdrop that Lisnagarvey’s Jonathan Bell – who captained the Irish men this summer – believes that the introduction of the EY Hockey League in 2015 has played an important role in raising club standards with a knock-on effect for the international teams.

“The first year of the EYHL and EY Champions Trophy was very special for us at Lisnagarvey as we won the league and the play offs,” Bell said at the launch of the new season.

“The standard of hockey has increased across the country and breaking into the top ten of the International Hockey Federation world rankings is a real milestone which reflects this.”

“In the last 12 to 18 months we have seen a lot of new faces joining the Irish squad and I think their transition to international hockey has been made easier having played in the EYHL with competitive club games every week.”

His side will begin their campaign with an eye-catching date with Monkstown, finalists last season in both the EY Champions Trophy and the Irish Senior Cup.

Due to the success of the EYHL, a new Division 2 will be introduced for 2018/19 following feedback from clubs around the country, offering better preparation for provincial league clubs to making the step up to the top tier through increased exposure to higher level fixtures. This will help ambitious clubs with player retention and demoted clubs to bridge the gap back to the top tier quickly.

Speaking about the start of the upcoming EYHL season, Mike McKerr, Country Managing Partner, EY Ireland commented: “Following on from a successful two years, we are extremely proud to announce our continued sponsorship of Irish hockey as we once again embark on what promises to be a highly competitive season.

“Building the highest performing and diverse teams is core to our success in EY and when it comes to leadership, teaming and developing winning strategies, there is a great deal to learn from professional sports people.

“By supporting the highest performing teams in the sporting arena, as exemplified by the Irish Hockey League, we hope to expand on our own strategy to inspire effective and engaged teaming, while promoting the importance of diversity within our firm.”

Reigning EY Champions Trophy winners Three Rock Rovers travel north to meet newly promoted Annadale, led by Olympian and player-coach Peter Caruth. Rovers have strengthened with the arrival of Irish underage internationals Ben McCrea and John Mullins from UCD and Clontarf, respectively, while South African international Richard Pautz is also in situ.

Glenanne are on the road to Cork C of I on Sunday. For the Glens’ Olympian Shane O’Donoghue, he is looking to try and take down the holders and says that the league itself is growing year on year.

“The EY league is trying to bridge that gap to the Belgium, Dutch and German domestic leagues. It played a big role going into the Rio Olympics and provided a strong platform in keeping the guys in our Irish training squad sharp.

"There is now little difference between the guys playing professionally and those playing here which is really positive. It has also made it quite attractive for foreign players looking to come and play in Ireland I’m super excited to get back with my home club as the league is going from strength to strength.”

Banbridge – the regular season EYHL champions last year – open their campaign at Railway Union while Cookstown, the other promoted side host Pembroke.

On the women’s side, UCD enter the competition as reigning champions but coach Miles Warren says that there is no chance his side can rest on their laurels.

“We don’t look back to last season because even though we have a lot of returning players, the dynamics in the group is going to be different so we can’t replicate exactly what we did,” he said of the season ahead.

“We have to see what works for this group and how they react. We start from scratch again.”

UCD welcome Irish international Ellen Curran and Bethany Barr following four years in the US with the Liberty Flames with centre midfielder Gillian Pinder graduating and so moving on to Pembroke. Warren feels his side will again be pushing for top honours but he believes that there are a host of challengers looking to knock his side off their perch.

For Pembroke, Pinder is a marquee addition following her graduation from UCD while Emily Beatty – another international – returns to Ireland following a year with KHC Dragons in Belgium. They start their campaign away to Ards.

For Pinder, she envisages it being a hugely competitive campaign with any number of clubs having the chance to grow and challenge for the title.

“You get top class opposition and it’s always tight games, week-in, week out. For players coming up through the underage systems, they are now getting a much better standard when they come in.”

Belfast Harlequins battle Hermes-Monkstown with internationals Lizzie Colvin and Zoe Wilson two big additions..

Pegasus confirmed the signing of Shirley McCay – Ireland most-capped sportswoman – from cross-town rivals Ulster Elks. They host Trinity on day one. Loreto meet Railway Union while UCD face Munster’s leading lights Cork Harlequins.

All told, the EYHL will run for 18 match days from September through to late April. The regular season champion will qualify as one of Ireland’s two European representatives for the 2018/19 season while the top four will all qualify for the EY Champions Trophy where the ultimate national winner will be decided.

It promises to be another thrilling season of Hockey Ireland’s marquee competition, made possible by the support of EY, elevating the level of the sport at club level and beyond.

Irish Hockey Association media release

The season starts here: Men’s EYHL season all set for tip off

Three Rock celebrate their EY Champions Trophy success last season. Pic: Adrian Boehm

After a couple of weeks delay, the men’s EY Hockey League tips off on Saturday with the race to be the third champion of the national league starting in earnest.

The highlight of the new day one is the meeting of Lisnagarvey against Monkstown at Comber Road as two of last year’s top four locking horns. Both sides won the away leg of their league meetings in this fixture but Garvey will probably be viewed as favourites this time around.

The 2016 champions have a reasonably settled panel for the new campaign with Michael Robson the sole departure to Crefelder HC in Germany with Neal Glassey’s suggested move with him not going through in the end. On the flip side, James Corry’s arrival from Instonians is a handy exchange.

With Glassey, Sean Murray and Matthew Nelson all having a coming-of-age year, playing three senior international tournaments, they have serious strength.

Monkstown, meanwhile, have seen Lee Cole move to Royal Oree, starring in the Belgian club’s win over Dragons last Sunday with the crucial goal and being named in La Libre’s team of the week. Kyle Good is also taking some time off hockey, linking up with Rathmichael FC.

It means that opportunity knocks for some of their youthful cohorts to stake a claim for a place in the side.

Champions Trophy winners Three Rock Rovers are on the road to face newly promoted Annadale at the new venue of Strathearn School. Rovers found Dale a real handful when they met in the league two years, earning just one point from the two games.

This time around, the side meet with Rovers who have been unbeaten in this competition for 17 matches and have added South African international Richard Pautz as well as Ben McCrea from UCD and John Mullins from Clontarf.

Mullins, though, has an injury from the Irish Under-21s tournament in Valencia as has goalkeeper Jamie Carr so Conor Quinn – who has also returned from UCD – and Shane O’Brien will battle to see who steps in between the posts.

The other promoted side, Cookstown, face Pembroke on home turf. The last time the two sides met in Tyrone was two years ago in an incident-packed game.

Down to ten men due to a red card after less than ten minutes, Cookstown had plenty of the game only to lose out 3-1, Mark Crooks getting the Reds’ goal, an absolute corker, just before the end.

“We are a very different team now than we were back then; a bit tougher, a bit smarter, and hopefully a bit more ruthless,” Crooks said of Cookstown now following their battle to promotion

“Pembroke are a great team. They had a tough start to last season but were really in with a shout in every game they played. That tells me that they will keep on fighting right to the final whistle. We’ll have to match that effort and mindset if we are to win. we’ll keep our heads and take our chances whenever they present themselves.”

Pembroke have six additions to last year’s panel with Cedric Mushiete from Royal Wellington in Belgium an interesting new arrival while there Cork C of I exchange programme sees Stephen Sweetnam, Richard Sweetnam and Richard Lynch bringing their Garryduff old boy contingent to five.

Banbridge’s new central defensive line-up will begin life at Railway Union following the summer moves from Kyle Marshall to Beeston and Matthew Bell to Crefelder HC.

Railway have had a huge turnover players with a trio emigrating to Australia while Mateusz Nowakowski is studying in Poland at university. They also have a large number coming in and so new coach Alan Browne’s first job is to get his side to gel.

On Sunday, Munster’s finest Cork C of I take on an ambitious Glenanne who have a number of eye-catching additions to their squad.

Former international Iain Walker is chief among them after well over a decade as YMCA’s number one; Richie Shaw is another, returning from a spell in Australia. Shannon Boucher is also set to come back to the club during the season.

** For full previews of the respective sides, click the following links:

– Annadale
– Banbridge
– Cookstown
– Cork C of I
– Glenanne
– Lisnagarvey
– Monkstown
– Pembroke
– Railway Union
– Three Rock Rovers

Men’s EY Hockey League fixtures
Saturday: Annadale v Three Rock Rovers, 2.30pm, Strathearn School; Cookstown v Pembroke Wanderers, 1.30pm, Steelweld Park; Lisnagarvey v Monkstown, 3pm, Comber Road; Railway Union v Banbridge, 2.40pm, Park Avenue

Sunday: Cork Church of Ireland v Glenanne, 2pm, Garryduff

The Hook

Quins look to lay down league marker against holders UCD
Stephen Findlater

With the détente between the Irish Hockey Umpires Association and Hockey Ireland in place, the EY Hockey League will tip off this weekend after two weeks of cancellations.

It means Cork Harlequins’ women and Cork C of I’s men will get their campaigns underway with some confidence; as Munster’s sole challengers, they can push for the play-off places.

Quins have the toughest possible start, travelling to Belfield to play champions UCD in a repeat of last season’s Irish Senior Cup final. The visitors have significant additions, with former international Julia O’Halloran a marquee signing, while Emily O’Leary returns to Munster after a spell with Ulster Elks.

Last term, it took time for Stephen Dale’s troops to integrate fully, with 10 new players, but that cup final performance and third place in the league showed real progress.

More settled this time, they have full access this season to Roisin Upton, who could form a strong partnership with Cliodhna Sargent, the international pair only playing once together last term.

Up front, Naomi Carroll and Rebecca Barry provide the strike-power, while Yvonne O’Byrne — the other in their quintet of current internationals — will captain the side, looking to maraud from the back.

UCD were the standard-bearers last season and look to be the side to watch again, though Gillian Pinder has graduated and moved on to Pembroke. In her stead, the Dublin students have added underage internationals Bethany Barr, Freya McDermott and Katherine Egan.

Hermes-Monkstown look set to drop off the pace this season, with a big summer exodus, including the attacking trio of Anna O’Flanagan, Chloe Watkins (both to Bloemendaal in the Netherlands) and Nikki Evans (UHC Hamburg).

The dark horses could be Pembroke, who brought in Emily Beatty from Dragons in Belgium, in addition to Pinder.

Belfast Harlequins, relegation-threatened last season, have also recruited well, with Zoe Wilson and Lizzie Colvin snapped up.

On the men’s side, Neil Welch coaches the side for a second season, but has to contend with the regular train of players moving to Dublin for work. This summer, Richard Sweetnam, Richard Lynch and Stephen Sweetnam moved to Pembroke. With doubts over Phil Smith’s knee and David Harvey’s neck and hamstring, their squad is slimmed considerably. As such, they will look to the likes of Phil Brownlow, Alex Burns, Julian Dale and Simon Wolfe to be more prominent. All were in the Irish U21 set-up this summer, sharpening them up for Glenanne’s visit on Sunday.

On paper, the contenders look to be Three Rock Rovers and Lisnagarvey. They have won the last two EYHL editions, while their rivals Monkstown and Banbridge have seen key players depart.

Elsewhere, the Munster schoolboys qualifiers for the All-Ireland Championships have been put on hold, following the death of Neville Atkinson, a long-time representative with Villiers school.

The Irish Examiner

Weekend College Games

Each week, USA Field Hockey highlights some of the top college games in Division I, II and III.


DI: No. 2 Duke vs No. 9 Boston College | 4 p.m. ET
This top-ten matchup between No. 2 Duke and No. 9 Boston College will be one to watch in Division I field hockey this weekend. This Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) battle sees Duke with their 7-1 overall record and 1-1 conference play with their sole loss being against Virginia. Since losing, Duke has won their last four games. Boston College meanwhile is 7-3 overall and 0-3 in conference play this season. The Eagles are coming off a thrilling 5-4 overtime win over Pacific this past Sunday. Tune into see ACC matchup to see if Boston College can get their first conference win when they take on the Blue Devils this Friday.

DI: Old Dominion vs Liberty | 4 p.m. ET
Both Old Dominion and Liberty are coming off disappointing losses this past weekend. Old Dominion dropped to 3-5 on the year after losing to No. 2 Duke this past Sunday. The Monarchs will aim to get back on track with a Big East Conference win over Liberty this weekend. Liberty also dropped to 3-5 on the season with back-to-back losses to Quinnipiac 1-0 on Friday and then Yale 1-0 in overtime on Sunday. The Flames outshot Yale 17-15 and held a 4-2 edge in short corners but were unable to capture the victory. These two teams are evenly matched so expect this game to be a thriller until the very end.

DII: Millersville vs Mercyhurst | 3 p.m. ET
Millersville will look to bounce back after back-to-back losses this past week to No.1 East Stroudsburg on Wednesday and Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Saturday. The Marauders are 3-3 overall and 0-1 in conference play. They have a big upcoming week with three Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) games in a row. Mercyhurst is coming off a 5-0 victory over Molloy College this past Sunday and of the five goals scored, four of them came in the first half. With the victory, they moved onto a 3-4 overall record this season. The Lakers will look to have another quick start when they take on PSAC conference foe Millersville this Friday. The last time these two teams met was the second game of the second when Millersville edged out Mercyhurst 6-1.

DIII: No. 16 Kean vs Rowan | 1 p.m. ET
Kean remains perfect in 2017 following a win over Bridgewater College this past Sunday by a final of 3-1. With the victory, they improved to 10-0 overall and have proven to be a strong defensive team having only allowed a total of five goals so far this season. The Cougars will look to keep their undefeated record when they take on Rowan this Friday. Rowa is coming off a four-game winning streak after defeating FDU 2-0 on Monday and Stevenson University 2-0 on Wednesday. After four straight wins, Rowan has improved to 5-3 overall this season. Will Kean remain undefeated or will Rowan be able to keep their winning streak alive?


DI: No. 14 Harvard vs Penn | 12 p.m. ET
Harvard and Penn will both be looking to earn their second win in Ivy League Conference play this Saturday. Harvard is 6-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play this season. Since losing to top ranked Connecticut, they went on to win their last four games including defeating Yale 2-1 on Saturday and Lafayette 6-1 on Sunday. Penn is 4-4 overall and 1-0 in conference play this season. They are coming off a spectacular weekend in which they recorded two big wins. On Saturday, Penn got their first Ivy league victory when they defeated Cornell 2-0 and the following day they upset American 3-2 in overtime. Tune into see which team will improve in the Ivy League Conference.

DI: No. 11 Stanford vs Ohio State | 3 p.m. ET
Stanford started off the 2017 season with back-to-back losses but has gone on to win their last seven games. The Cardinals are coming off a 4-1 win over New Hampshire this past Friday, after having a quick start scoring in the first two minutes of the game. With the victory, Stanford is now 7-2 overall and 4-0 in conference play. Ohio State could potentially give Stanford some trouble this Saturday as they are 4-5 overall and 0-3 in conference play. The Buckeyes have proven to be a hard team to beat having knocked off top ranked Louisville earlier this season. This past weekend, Ohio State lost two extremely close games to Michigan in overtime and Michigan State in shootouts. Will Stanford be able to keep its winning streak alive or will Ohio State be able to defeat another top ranked opponent?

DII: No. 2 Shippensburg vs No. 8 Bloomsburg | 12 p.m. ET
The match-up between these two PSAC teams will be the game to watch in Division II field hockey this weekend. Shippensburg improved to 6-1 overall after a 3-1 victory over Mansfield this past Saturday. The Raiders scored all three goals in the first half to gain momentum and will look to continue that quick start mentality to improve upon their winning streak this weekend. Bloomsburg is coming off a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime loss to Mansfield, despite outshooting their opponent 19 to 8. With the loss, Bloomsburg dropped to 2-3 overall this season as they head into a stretch where their next four games are all PSAC conference matchups. The last meeting between these two teams came early in the season with Shippensburg claiming victory in a 3-2 overtime win.


DI: No. 25 American vs Longwood | 1 p.m. ET
American University is coming off a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime defeat against Penn last Sunday. This is the first loss for AU since September 8 when they lost to No. 9 Louisville. American outshot Penn 16-7 and held a 9-7 advantage in penalty corners, but could not notch the winning goal. American will look to get back on track versus Longwood this Sunday. Longwood is 8-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play this season. The Lancers have outscored opponents 12-1 during their current homestand and will aim to keep rolling behind strong midfield play this weekend. Will Longwood continue its winning streak or will American be able to get back on track?

DI: No. 19 William & Mary vs Northeastern | 1 p.m. ET
The match-up between these two Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) teams will be a great game to watch in college field hockey this weekend. William & Mary is coming of a dominant 8-0 win against La Salle this past Sunday to improve to 6-4 overall. Northeastern topped Vermont 6-2 this past Sunday after being down 2-0 in the first 20 minutes before going on to score six unanswered goals. With the victory, Northeastern improved to 5-4 overall this season. The Huskies will look to show their resilience again when they take on William & Mary this Sunday. Tune into see which team will move up in CAA conference play.

DII: No. 4 Saint Anselm vs Mercy | 11:30 a.m. ET
Saint Anselm defeated Franklin Pierce this past Tuesday 4-1 to improve to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in conference play this season. Saint Anselm is off to one of its best starts in team history, racking up eight straight wins. In those matchups, the Hawks have scored 31 goals. Saint Anselm will look to remain undefeated when they take on Mercy this Sunday. The Mavricks are coming off three-consecutive losses, with their most recent being a hard-fought 2-1 battle to Bellarmine. With the loss, Mercy dropped to 2-7 overall and 0-6 in conference play. A big win against Saint Anselm could help get Mercy back on track.

DIII: No. 6 Tufts vs. No. 9 Hamilton | 12 p.m. ET
This past Tuesday, Tufts defeated conference opponent Wesleyan (Conn.) to remain undefeated in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play. With the win, Tufts improved to 5-2 overall and 4-0 in conference play. During the game against Wesleyan, the Jumbos controlled the tempo for most of the match and got on the board first. Tufts will be looking for another quick start when they take on Hamilton this Sunday. The Continentals are coming off a 6-1 victory over Utica and improve to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play this year. Hamilton will look to have a big win over top ranked Tufts to help improve their conference record.

* DI Rankings are based off NFHCA Division I Coaches Poll (Posted September 26, 2017)
** DII Rankings are based off NFHCA Division II Coaches Poll (Posted September 26, 2017)
*** DIII Rankings are based off NFHCA Division III Coaches Poll (Posted September 26, 2017)

USFHA media release

No. 2 Duke, No. 9 Boston College headline weekend of ranked action

Pat Ralph, Excelle Sports

Duke faces No. 9 Boston College and No. 22 Boston University in a big week of ranked action.

With the calendar flipping from September to October and conference play continuing to heat up, here are the seven best NCAA field hockey games to check out and watch this weekend.

Friday, September 29th

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 9 Boston College:

The lone top 10 matchup of the weekend takes place in Boston on Friday when the Eagles play host to the Blue Devils. Boston College (7-3) has struggled so far in the ACC, having started 0-3 in conference. BC’s most recent ACC loss came against Virginia last Friday before bouncing back with a 5-4 overtime win over non-conference opponent Pacific. Duke (7-1) is 1-1 so far in the ACC and will be looking for its first conference road win of the season. Last week, Duke defeated Old Dominion 3-0 in its lone game. After facing each other on Friday, both teams will play non-conference games on Sunday as well. While the Eagles will face New Hampshire on Sunday on the road, the Blue Devils will travel across town and face the Terriers of Boston University.

No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 15 Maryland:

The first of two signature Big Ten matchups this weekend will get underway on Friday when the Wolverines face off against the Terrapins in Ann Arbor. Having moved up from No. 9 in the rankings, the Wolverines (7-2) are off to a strong start in their conference. Michigan is 3-0 and has yet to allow a goal against a Big Ten opponent so far this season. Last weekend, Michigan grabbed a pair of conference road wins by knocking off Ohio State 1-0 and upsetting No. 4 Penn State 3-0. The Maize and Blue will be looking to improve to 4-0 in the Big Ten and continue its shutout streak when Maryland (6-4) comes to town. After defeating No. 19 Iowa 2-1, the Terrapins fell 3-2 against Northwestern at home last weekend. After dropping from No. 10 in the polls, Maryland is now 2-1 in the conference. While this is Maryland’s lone game of the weekend, the Wolverines host unranked Ball State on Sunday.

No. 7 Syracuse vs. No. 12 Louisville:

Another high-profile ACC matchup this weekend pits the Orange and Cardinals against each other in Louisville. Syracuse fell from No. 6 in the polls after losing 3-2 in overtime against No. 5 North Carolina at home. After starting the season 7-0, Syracuse (8-2) has lost two of its last three games and dropped to 1-2 in the ACC. The Orange will look to get back on track when it travels to Louisville to face the Cardinals on Friday. Louisville (6-4) moved up from No. 15 in the polls after picking up its first ACC win of the season by defeating Wake Forest 3-2 at home last weekend to snap a three-game losing streak. The Cardinals followed it up with a 4-1 win over No. 17 James Madison. After both teams go for their second conference win, each will have a second game on Sunday. Louisville will host unranked Central Michigan, while Syracuse will head back home and host Princeton in a big non-conference game.

No. 10 Northwestern vs. No. 19 Rutgers:

The second marquee Big Ten showdown this weekend takes us to Evanston where the Wildcats will host the Scarlet Knights. Northwestern (7-4) moved up from No. 14 in this week’s rankings after defeating Maryland on the road 3-2 last Sunday. With the win, the Wildcats were able to bounce back from a tough 4-3 overtime loss at No. 4 Penn State last Friday. Standing at 2-1 in conference play, the Wildcats will welcome in Rutgers (7-3) on Friday. The Scarlet Knights moved up from No. 23 in the polls after a pair of home wins last weekend to start 2-0 in the Big Ten. Rutgers took down Indiana 2-0 before defeating No. 24 Iowa 1-0. Now, the Scarlet Knights will see if it can take their Big Ten success on the road. Both teams will be looking for their third conference win this season, as this is the lone game for both Northwestern and Rutgers this weekend.

No. 3 Virginia vs. No. 13 Wake Forest:

The third and final ACC matchup this weekend features the Cavaliers and Demon Deacons going head-to-head in Winston-Salem. Virginia (9-1) moved up from No. 4 in the polls after extending its current win streak to eight games last weekend. The Cavaliers improved to 2-0 in the ACC with a 3-0 home win over Boston College before blowing out Pacific 6-0 this past Monday. The Cavaliers are one of the hottest teams in the country right now and will be looking to extend its win streak to nine games on Friday when it travels to Wake Forest for its first conference road game. The Demon Deacons (5-4) fell from No. 11 in the rankings after dropping their first conference game of the season in a 3-2 loss at Louisville last Friday to snap their three-game win streak. Wake Forest bounced back with a 4-1 win over Miami (Ohio) last Sunday. This is Virginia’s lone game this weekend, while Wake Forest will face unranked Liberty on Sunday.

Sunday, October 1st

No. 7 Syracuse vs. No. 16 Princeton:

On Sunday, we get a pair of non-conference games featuring teams who will be in action on Friday. After facing Louisville on Friday, the Orange will fly home to face Princeton (4-4). After losing four of their first five games, the Tigers are now on a three-game win streak and have moved up from No. 17 in the rankings. Last Saturday, Princeton opened up conference play with a 5-0 road win over Dartmouth before taking down Boston University the next day 1-0 on the road. Before traveling to Syracuse on Sunday, the Tigers will host Yale on Friday with hopes of going to 2-0 in the Ivy League and extending its winning streak to four games.

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 22 Boston University:

This weekend is Boston weekend for the Dukies, who will travel to BU after facing BC this Friday. The Terriers (5-4) moved up from No. 22 in the polls after beginning conference play with a 5-1 win over Lafayette last weekend. However, despite that Patriot League win at home, it has been a rough go lately for the Terriers who have lost four of their last five games after a 4-0 start to the season. Before hosting Duke, BU will look to improve to 2-0 in conference and end its slide when it travels to Colgate on Friday.


Maryland field hockey’s Emily Thomas overcame two high school ACL injuries

By Scott Gelman

Maryland field hockey defender Emily Thomas earned a black belt in third grade, not realizing the endurance test she took before the belt was issued would assist her college career.

Three-hundred sit-ups. 100 push-ups. 100 squats and a full mile run.

Thomas tore her ACL in consecutive seasons at South River High School, jeopardizing her aspirations to play for the Terps. Through the same perseverance she showed in third grade, she overcame both injuries to become a consistent contributor to Maryland's back line.

She'll look to continue her play against No. 6 Michigan on Friday.

"It's such a pleasant surprise," coach Missy Meharg said. "I knew recruiting her out of South River that she was a valuable player. I'm just super pleased her knee is doing well and she's back 100 percent."

Thomas suffered her first setback during her junior year of high school, but that didn't hinder Meharg's recruiting pursuit. Soon after, Thomas committed to Maryland.

But she injured the same ligament during her final high school campaign, making her dream of an immediate contribution with the Terps unrealistic. Thomas couldn't run during her first three months on the campus.

Over the next six months, she arrived at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex for daily rehab exercises, which prioritized getting Thomas' knees and quads back to equal strengths. The process was more comprehensive than after the first tear and "a lot more careful," Thomas said. She had to redshirt her first year in College Park.

Despite the extensive rehab, Thomas had to adjust her mindset entering Maryland's first contest against Saint Joseph's. It was the first time in months she had appeared in a game without thinking about an injury. She helped Maryland's defense secure a 2-1 win, entering the game as a substitute.

After the contest, Meharg lauded Thomas' effort, a turning point for the Edgewater native who had been itching to get into a game.

"It was the first time I felt like I was really helping the team," Thomas said. "That's a mindset I have to get out of, being injured. That was the first time I got out of that matchup."

Thomas said she's come to every Maryland Day since she was eight years old. Her parents went to this university. So, her emergence as a defensive force holds added meaning.

She's started two games and appeared in eight this year, recording one assist in the process.

Thomas has also proven versatile, switching from midfield to defense early in the year. The move forced her from the side of the field to the center, which Meharg said better suits her strengths.

"She knows space before she gets the ball," Meharg said. "Strategy-wise, you can ask something and she gets it and implements it pretty quickly."

The Diamondback

Oman Hockey Series: Good Learning Experience for Pakistani Youngsters

By Ijaz Chaudhry

Pakistan Development Squad with Trophy & Medals

Recently, Pakistan’s Development Hockey Squad visited Oman to play 5 match series against Oman’s national team. The matches were played at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex hockey ground in Muscat. The development squad won three matches while the first and last matches ended in draw.
1st Test: 2-2,  2nd Test: 4-2,  3rd Test: 4-1,   4th Test: 4-2,  5th Test: 1-1

Development Squad’s manager Usman Sheikh, a former Pakistan captain, represented the national team from 1994-2002. The right half played a stellar role in Pakistan’s victorious march at the 1994 World Cup.

He speaks about the Oman sojourn.

Overall view of the development squad’s performance?

“A good learning tour for our boys. It was a hastily arranged bunch of players and we only had a 9 day preparatory camp. The team won the series by a fair margin remaining undefeated throughout. Importantly, players got good competition. As you know, Oman has been figuring regularly on the international scene for quite some time now. Their national team has a strong coaching staff headed by the Indian Olympian C.Poonacha. This series was part of the Omani team’s preparation for the Asia Cup next month in Bangladesh.

It didn’t take us long to realize that Oman were no pushovers. In the first match, Pakistan trailed by two goals. The boys made a good comeback to end level at 2-2. The development squad went on to win the next three matches and were the better side through most phases during these games. But the hosts did provide anxious moments particularly in the fourth match. Oman once again scored two early goals. It speaks of our boys’ fighting spirit that they not only drew level but came out 4-2 winners in the end. The 1-1 draw in the last match was a bit disappointing. However, one must praise the Omani goal keeper who had an outstanding game. Perhaps, Pakistanis were somewhat relaxed having already won the series.”

Talking about the overall strategy/game plan

“We had planned aggressive hockey. The boys followed it most of the time. In addition, they were told to dominate the mid field; avoid being defensive at any stage. Our players remained goal hungry almost throughout. All the three victories came with a margin of two or more goals.”

What is the most encouraging about these boys?

“They possess the requisite talent to excel at the bigger stage. Then the age is on their side; 80% are under 23. Importantly, the ability to improve is there.

It must be remembered that only one member of this squad, Tazeem-ul-Hassan has played for the national senior team. Some have appeared for the age group teams while five had their first ever selection for Pakistan’s any representative team. On the basis of performance in this series, the management of Development Squad recommended the names of seven members for the final trials of the Pakistan team for the forthcoming Asia Cup. Two of them, Mubashir Ali and Atique Arshad have been selected in the team while two other Sahjeeh Ahmed and Shan Irshad have been named among the standbys.”

Any weak links?

“The coordination was not satisfactory. It can be put down to the fact that they were playing together for the first time as a team, and had a very short training camp. Finishing in the circle left a lot to be desired; easy chances were missed. Fitness also requires improvement which is of utmost importance in today’s hockey.”

About the attendance, and coverage of the series

“There were good crowds, mostly expat Pakistanis, in all the matches. It was overflowing at the last match and many couldn’t enter the stadium. The newspapers gave good coverage and the last match was televised live.”

Usman is all praise for the hosts, Pakistani expats as well as the embassy

“Pakistani ambassador H.E. Ali Javed was instrumental in getting the two main sponsors for the series: Mr Yasin Bhatti, an expat Pakistani, the owner of the Stars Light LLC, and Syed Fayyaz Ali Shah, an Omani of Pakistani origin who is the MD of Syed Fayyaz Group. Pakistan School Muscat invited the team over a lunch. The students performed on the stage and the players gave tips to the members of the school hockey team.      

Oman Hockey Association were wonderful hosts. They provided us with excellent accommodation, food and transport.

Here, I must mention the role of Pakistan’s former junior international Shakir, now FIH Level 3 coach, who is working as the goal keeping coach of the Oman national team for last many years. Now, he is also wearing the hat of OHA’s international relations manager. He was involved in all the aspects. In fact, it was Shakir and Dr Khamis al Rahibi, the secretary general of OHA, who presented the Pakistani ambassador with the idea of holding this Oman Pakistan Friendship Cup 2017. After this success, there are hopes of the event becoming an annual affair.”

“PHF should arrange development squad’s tours regularly. The players on the fringe of national selection get useful international exposure. This would also keep the national team’s members on their toes as they see second string’s players breathing down their neck.”

-Oman might not be a world beater but have improved a lot in recent times. The country has become a regular participant on the international circuit especially the continental competitions. In addition to the last three Asian Games, Oman figured in the Asia Cup for the first time in 2013 (will participate again this October) and also appeared in the last two editions of the Asian Champions Trophy. The under-21 side was at the 2015 Junior Asia Cup after finishing second to the hosts at the qualifiers in Bangladesh.

Oman has competed in all the three editions of the Hockey World League held so far, reaching the second round each time. In the last two, 2014-2015 & 2016-2017, they almost reached the semifinal stage. Oman lost the 3rd position on both the occasions; the top three made it to the semifinal round.

The domestic structure is very well organized and competitive, with clubs hiring foreign players. Pakistani and Indian Olympians have plied their trade there

Ijaz Chaudhry writes on hockey & other sports. For more about him and his work, visit: www.sportscorrespondent.info  


Hockey starts new competition

Pravin Narain

THE Marist Hockey Club in Fiji will introduce a new competition next year where the players will be able to represent the district where they are originally from.

Marist Hockey Club tournament director Paul Fraser said it was an exciting time for them.

"We are planning to start a new competition for the teams as it will be an origin-based concept as we want to develop the sport of hockey in the country," he said.

"We are looking for a name and the sponsor for the tournament.

"The competition is all about strengthening the district competition where the players from other districts playing for the different team will be able to play for their own district as the competition will be similar to the State of Origin competition."

The 2017 Geotech Drilling International Marist Eastgate Memorial Tournament starts at the National Hockey Centre in Laucala, Suva today.

"The players from Ovalau and west will bring a strong district competition which we have been lacking for the past 12 years and we are trying to revive and bring the concept of origin-based competition next year," Fraser said.

"We are looking at every district that has played in the past like Lautoka, Nadi, Ba, Suva, and Levuka who were strong teams and have sufficient players in Suva who can represent their origin district and it will make a very good district competition."

The Fiji TImes

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