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News for 22 November 2017

All the news for Wednesday 22 November 2017

Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final 2017 - Day 6

QF  GER v KOR 3 - 3 (1 - 3 SO)
QF ARG v NZL 1 - 2

FIH Match Centre

Quarter-final line-ups confirmed at the Sentinel Homes Women’s Hockey World League Final 2017

England captain Alex Danson inspired her team to victory Photo: FIH/WSP

Wins today for Argentina and England in Pool B confirmed the quarter-finals line-up at the Sentinel Homes Women’s Hockey World League Final 2017 being held at Harbour Hockey Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand.

Argentina’s 4-1 win against Germany and England’s 4-1 win against China meant that the final Pool B standings saw Argentina finish top, Germany second, England third and China fourth.

That means the quarter-final line-up sees Germany play Korea at 18:00 and Argentina against hosts New Zealand at 20:15 on Wednesday, while USA will take on England at 18:00 and Netherlands face China at 20:15 on Thursday.

The two teams leading Pool B, Germany and Argentina, faced off in the opening game of the day.

A sedate start to the match got increasingly frantic and feisty at times, with both teams aiming to finish in top spot.

Argentina upped the tempo after five minutes and forced two penalty corners, both of which proved unsuccessful. Germany were once again showing their ability in defence.

Argentina’s forward momentum paid off massively in the second quarter with two goals in two minutes.

Firstly in the 17th minute from Argentina’s fourth penalty corner, the German defence was expecting Noel Barrionnuevo to drag flick. Instead Barrionuevo deftly laid off the pass behind her to Julia Gomes who stroked the ball past ‘keeper Julia Cuipka’s left leg.

Two minutes later Argentina’s Gomes drag flick was superbly touched into the goal from a penalty corner by Maria Granatto.

Whilst Germany began to take more possession as the game went on, Argentina fought back. The Pan American champions scored two stunning field goals in the fourth quarter, firstly a bit of magic from captain Delfina Merino. She robbed Nike Lorenz of the ball at the top of the circle and nipped the ball across the goalkeeper and reverse hit the ball into the goal.

"We are improving with each game so are we feeling really confident."
Maria Granatto, Argentina

Maria Ortiz then produced a special goal a minute later when she made space on the left of the circle and smashed the ball home on the reverse.

Germany didn’t give in and their efforts were rewarded in the 55th minute. They forced only their second penalty corner and Nike Lorenz with her drag flick got it past Keeper Belen Succi’s right kicker, which proved to be the final goal of the game.

Afterwards, Argentina's Maria Granatto said: “We really deserved this win. It’s really good for us to be on top of the table. Now we play New Zealand who are a really strong team, but we are improving with each game so are we feeling really confident and looking forward to the match.”

England and China entered their match without having a win or having scored in their previous two matches.

It wasn’t long however before England scored their first two goals, both within three minutes of each other.

Laura Unsworth was outstanding in securing a heap of possession for her strikers. Lily Owsley was a beneficiary on one occasion, with a typically dynamic run down the left flank allowing her to get a shot on target, with captain Alex Danson in exactly the right place in front of goal to touch in the rebound.

Three minutes later Sophie Bray was rewarded for her creativity in the circle, slamming in goal number two.

Into the third quarter and England continued to press forward. Captain Alex Danson set up the third English goal, dribbling into the circle down the baseline and back to the spot for Hannah Martin to slam home their third goal.

In the 44th minute China converted their possession into their first goal with a left side dribble into the circle from Li Hong who battered the ball at the fast approaching English ‘keeper. Whilst Maddie Hinch partially smothered the shot, the rebound fell to Zong Mengling who was ecstatic to get on the scoresheet.

With the score at 3-1, China took off their goalkeeper Li Dongxaio with around seven minutes to go. Whilst this helped China force more attacks it also gave England the opportunity to score their fourth. Alex Danson set up team mate Sarah Haycroft for her first goal of the event.

One minute later it looked like China had scored through their penalty corner expert, Gu Bingfeng, but on referral it was deemed there had been obstruction on the English defenders.

Despite a frantic final few minutes, with China giving it their all, the match finished 4-1 to England.

Speaking afterwards, England’s Lily Owsley said: “Finally the connections worked. We were linking well as a team. As soon as we got the first goal the gates opened - it went bang, bang, bang. China put up a great fight though.” On playing USA in the quarter-finals, she said: “USA always give us a good game. They are strong, fast and fit. It will be tight and will come down to who thinks clearly when you are tired.”

Follow all the action on the official website and FIH's social channels, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Pool B:
Germany 1, Argentina 4
England 4, China 1.


FIH site

Danson inspires England to first World Hockey League win

Alex Danson v China HWL Final 2017

England will play the USA in the quarter-finals of the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League after beating China in their final group game to finish third in Pool B.

Captain Alex Danson led from the front superbly and opened the scoring with her 106th international strike, meaning she becomes England and GB’s combined outright second highest scorer of all time behind Marjorie Pollard.

She then played pivotal roles in goals for Sophie Bray, Hannah Martin and Sarah Haycroft as England cruised to their first victory of the tournament despite a third quarter effort from Zhong Mengling.

The result means England will face the Americans – who came second in Pool A – on Thursday, a game Danson is already looking forward to after the improved performance in this match.

“I am delighted with that team performance today,” the forward said.

“We were fantastic in defence and we had some beautiful connections between the defence, midfield and the forward line. To come out today and have a really good performance from back to front is something we are really happy with.

“We are very much looking forward to the next one against the USA. They are a very competitive team and we have played each other a couple of times already this year so it promises to be a great game.”

After spending much of their previous game against Argentina defending, England came out full of attacking intent against the world number eight outfit, with Lily Owsley in particular looking threatening.

The University of Birmingham midfielder brought the game to life in the 12th minute with a stunning run from her own half into China’s circle before Danson tucked the ball between the ‘keeper’s legs to open the scoring.

The lead was doubled at the end of the quarter as Bray smashed a shot past Li after being unselfishly set up by Martin at the end of a move which started with a raking pass down the left of the pitch by Danson.

Danny Kerry’s team continued to press in the second quarter and were unlucky not to score again as Bray had a shot well saved in the 25th minute Danson thumped a stinging reverse stick shot against the post moments later.

Shona McCallin then put in a timely tackle to thwart a Chinese attack in the 34th minute before England broke down the other end to score their third, Danson forcing her way into the circle and picking out Martin who tucked the ball away for her fifth international goal.

Owsley came close to bagging a goal herself but her shot at the end of another storming run was saved by Li before China struck back in the final minute of the third quarter as Zhong scored her country’s first goal of the tournament after a good initial save by Maddie Hinch.

England continued to dominate in the final quarter though as Martin and Owsley went close before Haycroft slotted home after more good work by Danson inside the Chinese circle.

England will now play the USA at 5am on Thursday 24 November in a game that will be shown on BT Sport.

England (2) 4
Danson (FG, 12), Bray (FG, 15), Martin (FG, 35), Haycroft (FG, 54)

China (0) 1
Zhong (FG, 45)

Starting XI: Hinch, Unsworth, Martin, Paige, Danson, Ansley, Bray, Pearne-Webb, McCallin, Owsley, Balsdon

Subs (Used): Haycroft, Toman, Petty, Sanders, Rayer, Defroand, Tennant

England Hockey Board Media release

Kiwis set for showdown against Argentina

Photo: www.photosport.nz

The quarter finals match-ups have been confirmed following the conclusion of pool play at the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final in Auckland.

Hosts the Vantage Black Sticks are set for a huge clash with Argentina at 8:15pm on Wednesday night, leading on from Germany vs Korea at 6:00pm.

On Thursday night the USA go up against England at 6:00pm before the Netherlands look to continue their form versus China at 8:15pm.

World number three ranked Argentina finished top of Pool B with three wins from three matches while New Zealand finished bottom of Pool A.

It’s a rematch of the 2015 World League gold medal match which saw Argentina take the tournament championship in front of a home crowd.

The two sides last competed in February’s five test series in Buenos Aires with the Black Sticks recording one win, one draw and three losses.

The winners of the cross-over quarter finals will progress to the semi finals while the losers play off for 5th-8th.

Tickets for Wednesday’s and Thursday’s quarter finals sessions are still available through www.ticketek.co.nz


Wednesday 22nd November
6:00pm – Germany vs Korea
8:15pm – Vantage Black Sticks vs Argentina

Thursday 23rd November
6:00pm – USA vs England
8:15pm – Netherlands vs China

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Retegui reveals Argentina squad for Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017

Argentina Head Coach Carlos Retegui is targeting the title at the Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017. Copyright: FIH / Getty Images.

On Friday 17 November, Argentina men’s Head Coach Carlos Retegui announced the 18 players that will contest the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017.

Los Leones arrive at the event sitting at the top of the FIH Hero World Rankings, and will be looking to add the World League title to the Olympic gold medal that they won at Rio 2016. They will also be keen to better the fifth place finish that they achieved in the 2015 edition of the World League.

Retegui has selected two newcomers for the event, with Santiago Tarazona and Marc Ganly making their tournament debuts at the competition in India. Ten of the 18 players named will be playing in their third World League Final event, with Juan Manuel Vivaldi, Juan Ignacio Gilardi, Juan Martin Lopez, Gonzalo Peillat, Ignacio Ortiz, Lucas Rossi, Matias Rey , Matías Paredes, Lucas Vila and Agustín Mazzilli having all featured in both the 2013 and 2015 editions.

Los Leones will compete in Pool A alongside Belgium, Netherlands and Spain. Pool B comprises of defending champions Australia, England, Germany and host nation India. Argentina first match of the competition is a mouth-watering reply of the 2016 Olympic final, taking on Belgium’s Red Lions on Saturday December 2nd at 1200 India Standard Time (UTC +5.30).

To see the complete list of match fixtures, click here.

For information about how to watch the action, click here.

Argentina squad
Juan Manuel Vivaldi
Agustín Abratte
Juan Ignacio Gilardi
Juan Martín López
Gonzalo Peillat
Nahuel Salis
Ignacio Ortiz
Lucas Rossi
Matías Rey
Diego Paz
Santiago Tarazona
Marc Ganly
Matías Paredes
Lucas Vila
Agustín Mazzilli
Maico Casella
Alan Andino
Agustín Bugallo

Source Material: CAH Press Release

FIH site

After Rio low, Colin Batch plots Australia revival at World Hockey League Final

Australia men's Head Coach Colin Batch

Colin Batch is known for his perfect planning and execution. Soon after taking over as chief coach of the Australia hockey team in 2016, he listed the problems in the team, which had finished sixth at the Rio Olympics.

The 59-year-old Australian had been the head coach of New Zealand and was a big inspiration to the Black Sticks for almost four years before switching over to his native country.

Batch wants his maiden trip to India to be a memorable one, helping defending champions Australia retain the Hockey World League Final, to be played in Bhubaneswar from December 1-10.

The World League Final will be Australia’s last tournament in 2017, ahead of a big year when the Kookaburras will compete in the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast City and in the London World Cup.

“We’re coming to India to win the tournament once again,” Batch told Hindustan Times over phone on Friday, soon after Hockey Australia named the 18-member team for the Odisha event.

“India is a strong team and they will have the home advantage, but we have prepared well to tackle all opposition,” said Batch. “This is a good opportunity to play against European teams and to test where we are after a lot of changes this year in the squad.”

Strong field

Australia, ranked No 2 in the world, are clubbed with England, Germany and India in Pool B. World No 1 Argentina, Belgium, Netherlands and Spain are in Pool A. “We haven’t played against Argentina and Netherlands for a while and we haven’t played Germany this year either. That is why this is a valuable tournament for us,” he said.

Despite the inexperience in the side, Batch was confident. “We’re a bunch of young and talented players and it’s no different to any other tournament where we go to perform to our best. We’re also assessing players on their capacity to play against other top teams.”

Batch, who also coached Belgium for two years till 2012, termed the Odisha Hockey World League Final as the biggest chance for all the teams to test their preparation for the big events next year, which includes the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics.

“It’s quite a challenging event (HWL Final) for the coaches also. Every event in the world gives you some idea for further improvement,” he said.

Batch said Australia had done home work and played good matches recently. “We’re missing some of our senior players for the event, but I am sure our youngsters would do well,” he said.

Hindustan Times

Rejuvenated Birender Lakra counts his blessings

Manuja Veerappa

BENGALURU: There's a tattoo of an angel and a cross on Birender Lakra's right forearm. The 28-year-old Indian hockey player got himself inked last year after injuries forced him out of the game twice in as many years. The angel is a symbol of hope and a brighter tomorrow which the dependable defender has worked towards with success. The result: the London Olympian is set to make a comeback after a year at the Hockey World League Final on his home turf - Bhubaneswar - next month.

It has been a long and rough climb back from injuries for the seasoned Odisha player who suffered a ligament (ACL) tear in his right knee during the Hockey India League in February 2016 before an issue with one of his quadriceps meant he was out of the team again after the Australian tour in November last year.

Having lost out on the opportunity to represent the country at the Rio Games, Lakra wants to make up for lost time. His inclusion is a boost for the Indian backline, which is already without their mainstay goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.

With Rupinderpal Singh -another player on the comeback trail - Lakra forms a formidable defence, the duo being a combination of power and tactics.

On the eve of the team's departure from their training base here, Lakra said, "Before the team was announced, I gave myself 80-20 chance of making the squad because the level of competition within the team has gone up with the junior players coming in and also, I haven't played in an international competition for a year."

The ration stemmed from his positive mental make-up. "I knew comeback from injuries is always tough but I didn't lose hope even when I had back-to-back injuries. A lot of credit goes to my family, coaches and teammates, who backed me," explained Lakra, who during the injury-forced break got married and also became a father last month.

When the chips were really down, Lakra listened to slow numbers in Hindi and Sadri, an Odisha dialect and did not shy away from seeking professional help. "The team management had arranged psychological counselling sessions for me. That helped me in becoming mentally stronger and getting over selfdoubts

The Times of India

India's Birendra Lakra believes team will be under pressure in tournament

File photo of the Indian hockey team. Image courtesy: Twitter @TheHockeyIndia

Bengaluru: Fit-again Birendra Lakra feels India will be under a little bit of pressure in the upcoming Hockey World League Final as the country gears up to host top hockey playing nations of the world in Bhubaneswar from 1 to 10 December.

Lakra, who missed last year's Rio Olympics due to a nagging knee injury and has been out of the team for quite some time, is making a comeback to the national team and that too in front of his home crowd.

And the ever-reliable fullback said the capital of Odisha has always been a "special" venue for India because of the support they enjoy from the hockey crazy fans of the city.

"There will always be a little bit of pressure at a big event like this where we are playing the top seven teams of the world," said Lakra, who last played for India during the Australian tour in December 2016.

"But I am excited and eagerly awaiting to play in front of my home crowd. I am expecting many of my friends and family to come and watch our matches. People are crazy about hockey in Odisha and the support we enjoy in Bhubaneswar always makes this a special venue for the Indian Team," he added.

Besides Lakra, two other Indian players — young Dipsan Tirkey and Amit Rohidas — will also get a chance to play before their home crowd in the HWL Final.

While Rohidas had an impressive Hockey India League this year, Tirkey is a member of junior World Cup-winning side and made a smooth transition into the senior team.

"This is the first time I will be playing for the Indian team in front of my home crowd in Odisha," said the 19-year-old Tirkey.

Excitement apart, playing top teams like Australia, Germany and England in the group stage will test the nerves of youngsters like Tirkey, who has just 12 international caps under his belt.

"Our chief coach Sjoerd Marijne has had one-on-one talks with us on mental preparation for this tournament. We are aware of our individual duties. Our focus is to execute the team's strategies without letting the pressure of expectation affect us," said Tirkey.

In the backline, Tirkey and Rohidas will play alongside experienced Lakra who has always been a constant support for the duo.

"It is not just Biru (Birendra) but seniors like (SV) Sunil, Manpreet (Singh), Rupinder (Pal Singh) have all been extremely encouraging to us in every session. As a team, we have worked very hard for this tournament and the fact that we did well in Belgium as well as the Asia Cup is a motivating factor to achieve good results in the Hockey World League Final," said Rohidas.

The Indian team, who are camping at the SAI Centre, will reach Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

India will open their campaign against defending champions Australia on 1 December.


U-19 USMNT and Canada Split First Two Test Matches

MOORPARK, Calif. - The U.S. U-19 Men's National Team is currently participating in their final training camp of 2017, which includes a test series against Canada's U-18 Men's Team in Moorpark, Calif. The U-19 USMNT has had a packed year including multiple training camps weekends, a European Tour to The Netherlands and competition at the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia. This 6-day training camp taking place at Moorpark College, which got underway November 19, will help springboard a core group of athletes as the squad is expected to partake in a four test series next year.

A young and growing squad, the U-19 USMNT, comprised of all U-18 athletes except for two players, split the first two matches of the series with Canada. Below is a recap of each game:

Match 1: USA 2, Canada 3

The first game was an even affair with the USA's northern neighbors prevailing in a well-played match. In the opening quarter, USA was on their heels as Canada tallied a field goal with 4:51 remaining on the clock. In the second, back-to-back penalty corners for Canada were unsuccessful has Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.) and Zaid Hassan (Santa Clara, Calif.) limited the chances respectively. The U-19 USMNT evened the game at the 9:15 minute mark when Wander Hommes (Westlake Village, Calif.) laid the ball off to Alberto Montilla (Allen, Texas) who one-time backhanded it into the bottom left corner. With just 2:30 left before half, Canada regained the lead making it 2-1.

To open the third quarter, Canada added another score at the 6-minute mark. USA responded with three penalty corners, but although the first two attempts failed, Garry Singh (Corona, Calif.) converted on a well-executed drag-flick to cut the goal margin. Heading into the final quarter with the score USA 2, Canada 3, the U-19 USMNT needed to dig deep to find the equalizer. Many circle penetrations and scoring opportunities were present, including a penalty corner chance but nothing was produced. As USA continued to fight, they were awarded a penalty corner with 5 seconds remaining in regulation. G. Singh ripped a fantastic shot but it was denied by a quick defensive tip.

Match Roster: Breslow, Curtis, DeAngelis (C), Govaert, Hassan, Hawley, Heller, Hennessy, Hommes, Jackson, Mendoza, Montilla, Qualie, Schiller, G. Singh, P, Singh, Galvin Stuart (GK), Tarala, Torigian (GK)

Match 2: USA 2, Canada 1

A beautiful 75-degree weather day was the backdrop of the second match between the U-19 USMNT and Canada's U-18 Men's Team. USA showed an increased level of intensity from the start compared to the first match-up. Each team earned a penalty corner in the first quarter but were unable to convert. A shift of momentum came in the second as USA took an early lead off a field goal from Montilla just 30 second in. The U-19 USMNT extended the lead soon after when Jack Gallucci (Trubell, Conn.) fed a ball to DeAngelis, who scored on a deflection that went up and over Canada's goalkeeper. Canada was able to tally one back at the 6-minute mark off a drag flick. A close follow up chance came for Canada to notch the equalizer with two minutes remaining in the half, but Hassan made the save off the goal line. The halftime score stood at USA 2, Canada 1.

The third quarter was a stalemate as Canada earned two penalty corners but did not effectively execute. The game went back and forth in the final quarter as Canada continued to push hard searching for the equalizer. USA was able to withstand the pressure and secure the 2-1 win. This is the first time the Junior U.S. Men's National Team has defeated the Canada Juniors in more than ten years.

Match Roster: Breslow, Curtis, Cutone, DeAngelis (C), Galluci, Govaert, Hassan, Hawley, Heller, Hennessy, Hommes, Jackson, Montilla, Quaile, G. Singh, P. Singh, Stuart (GK), Torigian (GK), Walshaw

"We reach new benchmarks and see improvement with these juniors at every training," said Rutger Wiese, USMNT Head Coach. "We will continue to build on the successes and experience of this team as we move forward into 2018."

The U.S. U-19 Men's National Team's next game is Wednesday at noon PT and the final match-up will take place on Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 23 at 10 a.m. PT.

USFHA media release

Golden and MacKenzie selected for GB Men’s Elite Development Programme

Scotland’s Cameron Golden and Callum MacKenzie have been selected for the men’s GB Elite Development Programme (EDP). Great Britain Hockey announced the men’s EDP players after selecting the women’s squad last month.

The GB EDP has been launched as part of a strategic objective during the Tokyo 2020 cycle with the aim of developing medal winning Olympians of the future, with the selected athletes having shown their potential to achieve that during a comprehensive selection process.

A total of 35 players have been chosen for the Men’s GB EDP and, while the programme is not age categorised, it has been designed for athletes aged between 19-23.

Several members of the Great Britain U21 side that won silver at the Sultan of Johor Cup last month have been selected. Scottish duo Golden and MacKenzie have been selected after starring in that tournament.Cameron Golden and Callum Mackenzie selected for the Elite Development Programme

The GB EDP will also see a revised coaching structure that will see world-class coaches leading the activity as well as spending time engaging and supporting the domestic and university game, with Jon Bleby announced as the Head Coach of the Men’s GB EDP.

Scotland U21 Men’s Coach Graham Moodie is also involved as a coach in the men’s EDP programme.

The men will now attend various training camps and days at Bisham Abbey and Lilleshall as well as spending time at a Warm Weather Training camp in Lisbon in January. They are also likely to play a number of games in the build up to the U21 Junior World Cup in Belgium next July.

Scottish Hockey’s Head of Performance Andy Tennant said, “Its excellent news that two Scots are included in the EDP, and hopefully over time more Scots will work their way into the programme.

“It is also great news that we have one of our high performance coaches in Graham Moodie as part of the coaching staff for the programme. Well done to the boys selected, who have committed to a robust selection process.”

Alex Blumfield, Beeston
Ben Boon, Reading
Jack Clee, Birmingham University
Tom Crowson, Loughborough Students
Owain Dolan Gray, Reading
Jacob Draper, Cardiff & Met
Arjan Drayton-Chana, Surbiton
Daniel Faulkner, East Grinstead
Ben Francis, Reading
Robbie Gleeson, Beeston
Cameron Golden , Grove Menzieshill
Gareth Griffiths, Beeston
Ronan Harvey-Kelly, Loughborough Students
Will Hewer, Loughborough Students
Evan Kimber, Loughborough Students
Rory McCallum (GK), Sheffield Hallam
Callum MacKenzie, Grange
Tim Nurse, Bath Buccs
James Oates, Canterbury
Nick Page, Loughborough Students
Nick Park , Reading
Josh Pavis, Nottingham University
Oliver Payne (GK), Durham University
Matthew Ramshaw, Loughborough Students
Toby Reynolds-Cotterill (GK), Loughborough Students
Duncan Scott, Exeter University
Rhys Smith, Durham University
Tom Sorsby, Nottingham University
James Sutcliffe, Brooklands MU

Scottish Hockey Union media release

SA hockey braces for 2017 Premier League

Austin Smith (Supplied)

Cape Town – With the Premier Hockey League (PHL) now just three days away, former captain of the national men’s team, Austin Smith, is relishing the opportunity to play in the competition for the first time.

Smith missed out on the 2016 PHL because of club commitments in the Netherlands, but timing has worked out in his favour this time around, and he’ll take to the field with the Drakensberg Dragons team when the action gets under way at the Randburg Astro in Johannesburg this Saturday.

“The tournament was run during the middle of the Dutch club competition last year and that's where I'm contracted to play and coach,” explained the 32-year-old Capetonian.

“I'm really looking forward to playing in the PHL for the first time. I followed it from afar last year and it looked like a lot of a fun.

“I've been fortunate enough to play in the Hockey India League and what I really enjoyed about that tournament was playing alongside players that I'd never had the chance to do so before. The PHL will be a very similar experience, playing with South African players that I usually only play against at inter-provincial tournaments.”

The Dragons team, coached by Sihle Ntuli, includes other marquee players such as Gowan Jones and Jethro Eustice – who Smith has played alongside in the national team – but also many that are new to him.

“I have to be honest, some of the players in my team I only know by name. I think that's half the fun of the PHL, getting to know other players in South Africa and learning from one another. I haven't played in the local league in South Africa for the past 12 years since I left to play overseas so it also gives me a chance to get back in touch with a lot of old playing mates,” he explained.

As for what he’s expecting from the PHL, which will be played over three consecutive weekends, with the playoffs taking place on December 11 and 12, Smith added: “I heard that it took a few games to get the connections just right and it takes a lot of communication to get everyone on the same page. It's logical that it takes a while but I hope with the experience that we have in our team we are able to do that quicker and more effectively than other teams.”

The Dragons finished in bottom spot at last year’s tournament, but Smith is looking for nothing less than a win in 2017.

“I have never started any tournament hoping for anything besides the gold medal. Nothing motivates me more than the chance to win. Having not played last year I really have no idea what the level is like or how our team will fair, but I guarantee that we will be going for the gold,” he said.

The Drakensberg Dragons play the opening game of the tournament – against the Addo Elephants on Saturday morning at 8am. All matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.


2017 National Hockey Festival Preview

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The time-honored tradition of field hockey and turkey is nearly here! The 36th edition of USA Field Hockey's annual National Hockey Festival, presented by CranBarry, will officially be underway this Thursday. The morning dew on the field in paradise will be in full swing as more than 5,000 athletes, parents, families and friends will venture to the International Polo Club in Palm Beach County, Fla. for the annual holiday tournament.

Festival is a beloved yearly event that brings people throughout the country together to make memories on and off the field during the Thanksgiving weekend. With a rich tradition of history, it’s important to celebrate last year’s champions. Best of luck in defending your title!

2016 National Hockey Festival Pool Champions
U-19   U-16   U-14
Pool Club   Pool Club   Pool Club
A Princeton FHC   K WC Eagles I   T Freedom Hockey
B Alley Cats    L Jersey Intensity Black   U Pinnacle FH
C PA Mavericks Black   M H20   V WC Eagles
D Firestyx   N Texas Pride   W Gateway FH
E Nook Hockey   O X-Calibur I   X Windy City
F South Jersey Edge Pink   P Saints  

G Horizon Brave   Q Lasting Legacy      
H True North Academy   R Mystx Force      
I The Gaels U-19 Blue   S IFHCK      
J New Heights Red  

Mixed Adult: #TeamJDH
Women's Open: Sharkbait

Be sure to check out all things the 2017 National Hockey Festival has to offer both on and off the fields with these fun opportunities:

All-Boys Festival Game
U.S. Men’s National Team Associate Head Coach Brian Schledorn will be on hand to meet all interested boys ages five and over. No experience is necessary and all equipment will be provided. Players will be divided up based on age and experience level in small-sided game play. All interested boys are encouraged to register and complete an online waiver by clicking here.
2017 Festival Event Program

Stay up to beat and in tuned with the 2017 National Hockey Festival Event Program. The program includes the tournament schedule, rosters, results, venue map, list of vendors and more. This  version is mobile friendly too!

Make your friends at home miss you (and maybe be a little jealous) by tagging all of your Instagram pictures and Twitter posts with @USAFieldHockey and #FHFestival17.

Stop by the USA Field Hockey Tent!
If you have questions, we have answers! Stop by the USA Field Hockey Tent if you have tournament, Futures Program or membership questions. Also, test your luck with the USA Field Hockey staff in the Penn Monto Ball Pull contest. Draw a specifically marked ball and be entered into the grand prize drawing.

Whether this is your first or eighth experience as an athlete, coach, umpire or field hockey fan at the National Hockey Festival, USA Field Hockey would like to warmly welcome you to Palm Beach County, Fla.! USA Field Hockey can’t wait to host and share an exciting field hockey experience with all of our participating members at the 36th annual National Hockey Festival, presented by CranBarry, at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach County, Fla. We hope all participants take part in as many offerings as possible while keeping in mind they need to save room for a hearty Thanksgiving dinner.

USFHA media release

Recap of USA Field Hockey's Louisville Weekend Final Four Activities

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The NCAA Field Hockey Championships have come and gone. While teams battled it out across Divisions I, II and III on the pitch, plenty of field hockey action also took place around the city.

USA Field Hockey was on hand alongside the Louisville Sports Commission, National Field Hockey Coaches Association, Kentucky Field Hockey Coaches Association and Mercy Academy to hold several ancillary events.

This past Saturday, leading up to the NCAA Championship Games and Division II and III Senior Games, USA Field Hockey hosted a social get-together at the Sports and Social Club, where fans had the chance to mix and mingle with fellow field hockey enthusiasts. Three-time Olympian and former U.S. Women’s National Team captain Lauren Crandall was on-site to help give out door prizes, including a signed USA Field Hockey sweatshirt by the Pennsylvania native.

On Sunday morning, USA Field Hockey hosted three educational events. Dozens of kids had the opportunity to play field hockey with Crandall at Mercy Academy, along with their parents. A big thank you to Mercy Academy Head Coach, Brittany Johnson, and to the school for their hospitality and passion for the sport. Several local coaches and club owners came out to help make this a success including Hannah Boyer, Andrea Clark, Caitlyn Grodzicka, Frances McNamara, Andrea McCarthy, Brittney Parrish, and others.

Among the attendees in Louisville were the founders of two new clubs coming to the state of Tennessee. Neil and Pan Padden of Nashville Field Hockey Club and Andrea McCarthy of Richview Field were on site to contribute to the weekend festivities and network.

Umpires had the opportunity to speak with NCAA and top collegiate umpires Amy Hassick, Grant Hundley, Gus Soteriades and Suzi Sutton at the Umpire Q&A. Chip Rogers, Miami University of Ohio Assistant Coach and experienced NCAA umpire, was the moderator.

Coaches meanwhile had the chance to speak with collegiate coaches Jenelle Anthony of Centre College, Carolyn King Robitaille of Saint Anselm College and Justine Sowry from the University of Louisville. Mark Blankenbaker from Bellarmine University was the moderator.

Once again, a big thank you to all who were involved in making this past weekend in Louisville a raging success and helping Grow the Game, Serve Members and Succeed Internationally.

USFHA media release

Bicycles, dictionaries and chocolate: three players share their European adventures

Sarah Juggins

Norlander, Donohoe, Woodcroft and Stairs (Canada) traveling in Europe

When several world class players from Europe were asked which female player they respected most on the international circuit, a common answer was Delfina Merino, the dynamo on the Argentina forward line. It wasn’t just Merino’s performances in the blue and white of Las Leonas that has won the striker praise but her performances in the European leagues.

Merino plays domestic hockey alongside Dutch superstars Caia van Maasakker and Carlien Dirkse van den Heuval and Great Britain goalkeeper Maddie Hinch. All three agree that by playing and training with Merino they have realised just what a sensational player she is.

“I wouldn’t say there is ‘fear’, when Merino enters the circle, said Hinch. But you know she is going to challenge all your abilities as a goalkeeper.”

“And she is a cool person off the pitch”, added van Maasakker, who says that Merino is a sparkling personality within the squad.

Merino has had two playing spells in Europe and has been a success on both occasions. She is one of a number of players that now choose to spend part of their career in Europe playing in the testing conditions of the various European leagues. Merino’s team SCHC is one of the fore-runners in the Dutch Hoofdklasse league, arguably the strongest domestic league in the world, but players from the Pan American region are popping up in Germany’s Bundesliga, the English National League and the Belgium men’s and women’s national leagues.

There is no doubt that life as a professional or semi-professional hockey player is an attractive proposition. Training and playing the sport you love, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and travelling the world is a glamorous way of life … in theory. The reality can be very different. Learning a new language is tough, fitting into a different culture can be tricky and being on a continent several thousand miles away from home and loved ones can bring on crippling bouts of homesickness.

We spoke to three players who have moved way beyond their comfort zone to take up the challenge of making it as a player in Europe.

Amanda Woodcroft is a 24-year-old midfielder for the Canada national squad. She has been playing for one of the top Belgium clubs, Leuven, since August after Canada’s head coach gave his players the go-ahead to gain some playing experience in Europe. Four of the team – Woodcroft, Stephanie Norlander, Brienne Stairs and Rachel Donohoe – approached the club and were instantly signed up for the season. It has provided a challenge that Woodcroft is relishing.

Donohoe, Woodcroft, Stairs and Norlander (Canada) playing for Leuven, Belgium - Picture: Emma van Mol

“The level of hockey is very high here so I have already learned a lot and gained valuable game experience. I believe my technical skills along with my tactical awareness have improved greatly. For club hockey, the level is higher here in Europe. Way more people play hockey in Europe, the biggest difference is the number of kids and male players compared to back in Canada. Also, the culture post-game is very different. We stay and socialize after the games here; the sport of hockey is valued more here than at home.”

The expected language barrier has not presented the problems that Woodcroft expected. Although Belgium has a dual language system – speaking French and Flemish depending upon which part of the country you are in – most people speak English. The training sessions and team meetings are mostly conducted in English, which makes life much easier.

The clubs are also very good at looking after the players while they are in the country. Players from overseas are provided with places to live, cars or bicycles to get around on and will be set up with coaching work to supplement their income. Woodcroft adds that her team mates and coaching staff  are continuously checking that she is settling in to the Belgium way of life. For her, one of the biggest surprises has been the fact that bicycles are the main form of transport. “At home I would usually drive or walk to places but here everyone bikes around so we decided to join the culture and bike around as much as possible.”

Two more players who have experienced life in Belgium are Chile duo Manuela Urroz and Constanza Palma. Urroz is currently in her third season with Royal Antwerp Hockey Club while Palma did play for KHC Dragons but has now crossed the border and is playing for German club Crefelder HTC.

Manuela Urroz (Chile) playing for Antwerp, Belgium - Picture: JL. Goethals

“I always dreamed about playing hockey abroad,” says Urroz. “When I finished Law School  I decided to take the challenge and leave my comfort zone. I wanted to improve my hockey, meet new people and get to know a different culture. It was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

“Every season I get the chance to play with multiple Olympians. I get the chance to play with and against top players. The league is competitive and every week there are new surprises. I have improved technically and tactically and also became a smarter player.”

For Palma, the experience of playing abroad has opened her eyes to the many different styles of play. “In Germany they do a lot of man to man marking, something that we’re not used to in Chile. I have had to learn how to deal with that, how to move to receive the ball no matter whether you have someone marking you. Also the rhythm in the Belgium league is really high so it helps you to get used to playing at a high level which is comparable to the international level.”

Constanza Palma (Chile) playing for Crefelder, Germany - Picture: Hans Kramhöller

Both Chile players have great language skills. Urroz speaks Spanish, English and French and is now learning the notoriously difficult Dutch language, while Palma thanks her lucky stars that she spent a year studying in the USA so her English is good. Being a polyglot is a great help as the European teams attract players from places as far afield as South Africa, Argentina and Poland.

Palma’s teammates at Crefelder have put together a dictionary of German hockey words for her, a comradely touch for which she is immensely grateful.

There is a huge difference in playing styles between the South Americans and the Europeans, both at international and club level. It is something that Urroz has really come to appreciate during her three years at Royal Antwerp. “I think that in Europe hockey is more structured and based on tactics. The South American game is more about technical skills. I think this is having a big impact on our national team. We have already seen that players that come back from Europe are more mature and playing on a higher hockey level.

“The Chilean league is not as competitive and professional as Europe. Although Royal Antwerp is one of the best teams in the league we know that we can’t relax because every week there are surprises. that makes it competitive and fun to play. I would definitely encourage my teammates to experience living abroad.”

For Woodcroft, Urroz and Palma, playing in Europe offers a hockey player’s dream – to live as a semi- or fully professional sports person. The daily routine involves gym sessions, training sessions and team meetings. All three also get involved in coaching at their clubs, either junior teams or lower league adult teams. It is the only time language barriers become a problem as many of the young players do not speak English. However, with plenty of other players around offering support, this is not something that is a massive obstacle.

The players also get a chance to explore the rest of Europe, experiencing the different cultures and histories. As Woodcroft says: “With every country being so close in Europe I have travelled somewhere new almost every week.”

Of course, there is a downside. “I love what I do but ‘yes’, I miss my family and friends,” says Urroz. “It’s a dream to play abroad but it comes with a price. You miss birthdays, weddings and important moments back home. Also you miss the daily routine with the national team, games and tournaments. But in the end I think it´s worth it.”

Palma agrees: “I always dreamed of living as a professional hockey player. I wanted to have time to go to the gym and be worried only about playing hockey. I came to Europe to see if I could raise my level a little bit and also, I was looking for something different to add to my style of playing. I think hockey is different in every country and it’s always interesting to go to other places because there’s always something new to learn.”

And without naming and embarrassing the player concerned, there is another obvious draw to living in Europe. “I really like the chocolate here in Belgium!”

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

Dorothea Findlater RIP

It was with great sadness today that we learned of the death of Dorothea Findlater (nee de Courcy Wheeler).

She passed away peacefully early on Monday morning at her home in south Dublin at the age of 107, the oldest woman in Ireland at the time of her death.

Dorothea played initially for Kilmeague in Kildare and then with Trinity before helping to form Old Trinity Hockey Club. She went on to play for Ireland in 1936 on a tour to Philadelphia and remained involved in the sport until 2017, most recently lending her name to the inaugural Wheeler Plate played for between the alumni of Trinity ladies hockey club and the current club in College Park. She has been a pavilion member at Three Rock Rovers for well over 50 years.

Hockey Ireland would like to pass on our condolences to her family.

Funeral Service on Thursday (November 23) at 11 o'clock in St. Brigid's Parish Church, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, afterwards to Deans Grange Cemetery. Family flowers only, please.

Irish Hockey Association media release

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