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News for 25 July 2018

All the news for Wednesday 25 July 2018

Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup 2018 - Day 3
London (ENG)

Results 24 July

JPN v NZL (Pool D)     2 - 1
AUS v BEL (Pool D)     0 - 0

Upcoming 25 July (GMT +1)
18:00     GER v ARG (Pool C)
20:00     USA v ENG (Pool B)

Pool standings

Pool A

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Netherlands 1 1 0 0 7 0 7 3
2 Italy 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 3
3 China 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0
4 Korea 1 0 0 1 0 7 -7 0

Pool B

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Ireland 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 3
2 England 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
2 India 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
4 United States 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0

Pool C

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Argentina 1 1 0 0 6 2 4 3
2 Germany 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 3
3 South Africa 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0
4 Spain 1 0 0 1 2 6 -4 0

Pool D

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Australia 2 1 1 0 3 2 1 4
2 New Zealand 2 1 0 1 5 3 1 3
3 Japan 2 1 0 1 4 4 0 3
4 Belgium 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2 1

FIH Match Centre

Cherry Blossoms bloom in the heat of London

Japan celebrate. Pic credit: Getty Images/FIH

Pool D was blown wide open as yet another high ranked team fell to a tactically astute opponent.

New Zealand, who have enjoyed a rich vein of form in recent months would have been confident going into their second game of the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup, but the Cherry Blossoms are a team that is in the ascendency.

Less of a shock, but still an upset was the 0-0 draw between Belgium and Australia. Goalless it might have been but this was an absorbing encounter between two teams who have been rebuilding their squad and their team culture.

"We have a training session called 'turnover Thursday, where we train under duress, this has really helped us to improve our thinking and decision making" Stephanie Vanden Borre, Belgium.

The opening match was played in extreme heat as temperatures in London rocketed to the mid-thirties and the temperature on the pitch was several degrees higher. New Zealand, who are currently fourth in the FIH Hero World Rankings have played Japan (WR:11) recently in the Pioneer Energy Tri Nations Women's International, beating the Cherry Blossoms twice, but this is a World Cup and nothing is a certainty.

While New Zealand had secured three points after a tough game with Belgium, Japan had been on the wrong side of a 3-2 loss to Australia. In that game, Japan had started slowly and turned a potentially clear-cut loss into a much closer affair with two quick goals in the final minutes of the game.

So the two questions ahead of the game was whether New Zealand had recovered from their exertions and whether Japan would pick up the momentum they had developed over the course of their opening match?

The first half was an open affair, with New Zealand playing their usual expansive and fast-running style of play and Japan looking for innovative passes that got their strikers in behind the Black Stick's defence. It was Japan who created the majority of chances in the first half.

The first of these came when Yu Asai found Motomi Kawamura in front of goal and unmarked. The striker just deflected the ball wide of Sally Rutherford in the New Zealand goal. Three penalty corners for the Cherry Blossoms also failed to provide a breakthrough but it was clear that Japan were paying no heed to the large disparity in world rankings.

As temperatures rose, so the players' fatigue levels began to show. Passes from both teams were going astray and on several occasions a good run ended in no outcome purely because the player ran out of energy.

After the break, it was Japan who demonstrated they were adapting to the hot conditions the best. A well-disciplined high press put pressure on the Black Sticks and they were eventually rewarded with a fourth penalty corner. Oikwawa Shihori was on hand to slam the ball past Rutherford. New Zealand came back hard seeking an equaliser but Japan were able to step up and breakdown the play. A quick break left Vitality Player of the Match Minami Shimizu with a one-on-one with the 'keeper and the nifty midfielder was able to dance around the sliding tackle and slot home to double the Cherry Blossom's lead.

However, New Zealand are not a team to give up and with nine minutes left, New Zealand won a penalty stroke after a foul tackle prevented a certain goal. Anita McLaren made no mistake as she struck the ball into the bottom right-hand corner, and the 2017 Gold Coast gold medallists were back in the game.

With five minutes left Japan were reduced to 10 players and a penalty corner was awarded to New Zealand. The large contingent of Black Sticks fans held their breath but the shot flew harmlessly wide.

"We learnt a lot from our previous game against Australia [Japan lost 3-2]," said Japan's Yui Ishibashi, as she reflected back on her team's performance.

"We planned to operate a high press and then try to work around the New Zealand defence."

Australia (WR:5) and Belgium (WR:13) went head-to-head in the second Pool D match of the day. The first quarter passed without any goals although there is little doubt that the Hockeyroos were the stronger team in the opening salvos.

Their strong build-up play and willingness to run at defenders saw the 2014 World Cup silver medallists rack up a number of shots on goal, although none of them were enough to beat Aisling D'Hooghe in the Belgium goal.

As the second quarter counted down however, the Red Panthers began to find their feet and the play evened out. Stephanie Vanden Borre showed a sublime piece of skill to take the ball out of her own defence and release Anne-Sophie Weyns but the Australia defence looked rock solid as they stuck to the Belgium forwards like glue.

The second half saw Belgium grow in confidence as the Australia threat failed to produce a goal. Where Australia were using their strength and speed to spread the ball around, Belgium were soaking up the pressure and then looking to make quick breaks through the centre of the field. The tactic nearly worked as Alix Gerniers wriggled past two Australia sticks to release Anne-Sophie Weyns. Weyns shot was stopped by Rachael Lynch, who then showed her class to recover and save the rebounded shot.

Still Australia kept knocking on the door, Jodie Kenny lined up for a trademark penalty corner but the Belgium defence held firm. The Red Panthers created their own chances, with Stephane Vanden Borre, Viatlity Player of the Match Barbara Nelen and Michelle Struijk particularly causing problems for the Australia defence.

Lynch was called into action when Louise Versavel had the ball on the edge of the circle. The 'keeper was quickly off her line to close down the danger.

After the game Lynch said: "We knew it would be a hard game and we had to be 'on' every minute of the game. We had some good patches, where we did some really good things and we got lots of opportunities, but then they did too.

"Belgium are a good team and they can be unpredictable but we stuck to our game plan. For the next game our penalty corners need to be better. At this level they are crucial."

Belgium's Stephanie Vanden Borre said: "We had a difficult start and we were finding it difficult to play our game but in the second half we grew into the game.

"Two years ago we really started to increase our physical preparation. We are the best state of fitness we can be. We have just been training, training, training.

"We have a training session called 'turnover Thursday, where we train under duress, this has really helped us to improve our thinking and decision making."

The action resumes on Wednesday 24 July at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre when Germany (WR:6) take on Argentina (WR:3) in Pool B at 18:00 (CEST+1) then USA (WR:7) will face England (WR:2) in the second round of Pool C matches at 20:00 (CEST +1).


FIH site

Day Three: The Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup

Japan grabbed a vital win on day three of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup as they defeated New Zealand to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.

Goals from Minami Shimizu and Shihori Oikawa set up the win before Australia and Belgium played out a 0-0 draw which throws pool D wide open.

Australia sit top with four points while New Zealand and Japan have three with Belgium fourth with one but still with a chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

Tickets are still available to see pool D be decided, to book your seat and for information click here.

In the first game of the day Japan responded from their opening 3-2 defeat to Australia by beating New Zealand in an impressive display.

It was a tightly fought contest with the deadlock being broken shortly after half-time as Oikawa put Japan ahead from a penalty corner.

They were able to give themselves some breathing space early in the final quarter as well when Shimizu doubled the lead leaving New Zealand with plenty of work to do.

The Black Sticks did respond as Anita McLaren converted a penalty stroke but despite their best efforts were unable to grab and equaliser. The result throwing the pool wide open heading into the final round of matches.

Pool D was made tighter still as Australia and Belgium battled it out in 0-0 draw. Both sides creating chances but failing to edge meaning that all teams in the pool can still qualify for the quarter finals.

Australia and New Zealand go head to head in the Trans-Tasman derby while Japan and Belgium also go head to head on Saturday in what is sure to be a thrilling session on Saturday evening.

England Hockey Board Media release

Vantage Black Sticks Women stunned by Japan

Anita McLaren battles in the midfield against Japan. Despite scoring her 105th goal for NZ from a penalty stroke, the Black Sticks fell 1-2 to a spirited Japan in their second pool match. Photo: FIH/Getty Images

The Vantage Black Sticks Women have been beaten 2-1 by an energised Japan team in their second World Cup pool game in London.

New Zealand were outrun and outfought by the Cherry Blossoms as they failed to take the initiative at the top of Pool D losing a pulsating match in the sweltering English summer heat.

Japan had started the game with the majority of possession in the first half. The game in England being played at a balmy 28 degrees. Despite the weather both teams looked lively early on with plenty of chances. Anita McLaren went closest for New Zealand after just two minutes with a reverse sweep that drifted wide. Japan however edged possession in the 1st quarter with just over 53% and had the best chance of the opening 15 minutes when Motomi Kawamura turned the ball wide past Sally Rutherford in the Kiwi’s net.

Japan continued the high intensity in the 2nd quarter, bursting into action with a penalty corner being cleared off the line by New Zealand defender Brooke Neal. Shortly after another Japan effort from another penalty corner flew over the bar.

After the halftime break the first half pattern was repeated, end to end play with Japan in the ascendancy.

And it was no surprise when Japan opened the scoring in the 35th minute. Fluid build up play forced a penalty corner after Kiwi’s Frances Davies was found to have intentionally played the ball over the back line.

From the penalty corner there was nothing that goalkeeper Sally Rutherford could do as Shihori Oikawa hit a thunderous strike into the bottom corner of the net.

Japan doubled its lead on 48 minutes after defensive frailties from the Vantage Black Sticks Women allowed Minami Shimizu in on goal, she rounded the goalkeeper to send Japan into a two goal lead.

This seemed to spur New Zealand into life with the Kiwi's having 59% of the possession in the final quarter. Relentless Vantage Black Sticks pressure led to a goal bound Brooke Neal shot being stopped on the line by Japan’s Mayumi Ono.

Despite a video umpire appeal from the Japanese, a penalty stroke was given. Anita McLaren duly stepped up and slotted away to the keepers right to make the score 2-1. With just eight minutes to go New Zealand sensed a comeback. Despite being down to ten players after Olivia Merry’s yellow card the Kiwis pushed on and could have stolen an equalizer.

With two minutes to go New Zealand threw everything forward and after some rapid build up play Kelsey Smith flashed a chance across goal, Japan happy to see the ball sail away from harm's reach, it was too little too late.

For the second time in 2018 Japan walked away as winners over New Zealand.

Vantage Black Sticks women's coach Mark Hager said it was hard to take positives from the game.

“I think it was one of our poorest performances for quite a while, saying that you've got to give Japan credit they put us under pressure but we didn't handle it well enough.”

He added it was no surprise about how energised Japan were coming into the game after their 3-2 defeat to Australia in their opening match.

“We knew they’d come out hard and we didn’t, we did in the first 5 to 6 minutes but we just fell away and that was the disappointing thing for me, we lost structure and we went away from how we were pressing and winning the ball and became individuals and that's how we started to get hurt.”

New Zealand now faces Australia in its final pool play match on Sunday morning at 7am and Hager was philosophical.

“Thats done, let's move on, it's not the end of the world, we're still in the competition we just need to play well in our next game.”

VANTAGE BLACK STICKS: 1 (Anita McLaren 52')
JAPAN: 2 (Shihori Oikawa 35', Minami Shimizu 48')

Half Time: 0 - 0

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Black Sticks stunned by Japan at World Cup

By David Leggat

Minami Shimizu of Japan celebrates scoring their second goal against the Black Sticks. Photo / Getty

New Zealand's World Cup hockey campaign hit a speed bump in London early today when they were beaten 2-1 by Japan.

The world No 4 Black Sticks, who had begun the cup with a 4-2 win over Belgium, could have few complaints.

The fast and determined Japanese were sharper for most of the first three quarters and then hung on as New Zealand, shaken out of their torpor, desperately sought an equaliser in the final period.

New Zealand had beaten Japan in two of their three matches in Cromwell on their visit in May.

However the world No 12 side were up for the challenge from the start and the Black Sticks paid for a lackadaisical second and third quarters, and an inability to lift their performance and pressure the Japanese goal often enough.

New Zealand pride themselves on playing a fast, energetic style, but for too much of the game the momentum was with Japan.

"The biggest thing today was we didn't perform at all as a team," captain Stacey Michelsen said.

"We certainly had enough opportunities going forward but didn't do enough in the attacking circle. We didn't outlet well enough out of the back and weren't clinical enough in the circle."

Japan went ahead with a firm shot from Shihori Oikawa four minutes after halftime.

Experienced midfielder Anita McLaren had been dispossessed in midfield, a silly penalty corner had been conceded directly from that and Oikawa cashed in.

They doubled the lead after a bad blunder from defender Brooke Neal, who had otherwise done some strong work at the back. Her attempted lifted clearance was intercepted and the ball reached attacker Minami Shimizu who scored with 12 minutes left.

New Zealand had scoring chances but weren't sharp enough.

Midfielder Amy Robinson, who got in a power of running, was through on her own after a defensive slipup but couldn't capitalise; Sam Harrison shot over the bar, and across the face of the goal after diving desperately to get her stick on a clever McLaren pass; Kelsey Smith also squandered a big chance late on after good leadup work from Michelson and McLaren down the right.

McLaren reduced the gap with eight minutes left after New Zealand received a penalty stroke. But with striker Olivia Merry serving her second period in the sin bin late on, the Black Sticks were a player down for an important few minutes at the death.

Goalkeeper Sally Rutherford did some resolute defensive work, Michelson was always a threat, but New Zealand, who had slightly more shots on goal and circle penetrations than Japan, ultimately paid for not having done enough going forward through the first three quarters.

Commonwealth Games champions New Zealand play world No 5 Australia in their final group D game on Sunday morning (NZT).

They can still win their pool and advance directly to the quarter-finals with a victory in that match. The second and third place getters play crossover games to reach the quarters.

In the other pool D game today, Australia and Belgium played out a scoreless draw, which leaves Australia top of the group on four points, with New Zealand and Japan on three and the Belgians one.

"It's certainly not the way we wanted to do things. We want to win our pool and we have to focus on that Australia game. The big thing is it is still in our own hands," Michelsen added.

New Zealand will need to lift their performance significantly to topple an Australian outfit who outscored them 11-2 in three internationals in May.

The New Zealand Herald

Black Sticks outplayed in loss to Japan at Women's Hockey World Cup

Black Sticks' Samantha Charlton battles with Akiko Kato of Japan during their Pool D match at the Women's Hockey World Cup. CHRISTOPHER LEE/GETTY IMAGES

The Black Sticks women's chances of progressing at the Women's Hockey World Cup remain high despite a 2-1 loss to Japan on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) in London.

Mark Hager's team fell behind by two goals to Japan - ranked eight places behind New Zealand - who out-hustled their opponents for much of the Pool D match at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

Shihori Oikawa opened the scoring from a penalty corner in the 35th minute before Minami Shimizu doubled the lead in the 48th minute after a turnover moving the ball out of the back cost the Black Sticks.

Anita McLaren got one back for New Zealand via a penalty stroke in the 52nd minute but with Olivia Merry off the field due to a yellow card inside the final five minutes, and even when Merry returned to the pitch late, they could not crack Japan's defence for an equaliser.

Japan upset the Black Sticks for the second time in 2018, winning 2-1 at the Women's Hockey World Cup in London. CHRISTOPHER LEE/GETTY IMAGES

The Black Sticks had a 14-12 advantage in shots and 26-22 in circle penetrations but too often their attacks were easily snuffed out by Japan.

Australia and Belgium played out a scoreless draw in the only other match on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT). Australia leads the pool with four points, followed by New Zealand and Japan on three and Belgium on one.

The results mean the only way the Black Sticks can miss out on advancing to the Round of 16 is a loss to Australia and a Belgium win over Japan in the final Pool D matches on Saturday (Sunday NZT), while also falling behind Japan in goal differential and/or goals scored. New Zealand currently lead Japan in goal differential and goals scored by one.

Any other sequence of results would see the Black Sticks advance, while they could also top Pool D with a victory over Australia and move directly into the quarterfinals.


Former Black Stick Katie Glynn opens up about World Cup tremors


NZ's Liz Thompson and Minami Shimuzi of Japan in action in London. GETTY IMAGES

The 2018 Hockey World Cup is once again living up to its unpredictable reputation, having already seen top teams fall in the early stages.

In the first day alone we watched the Italians who are ranked 17th topple over China (8), and then Ireland (16) deliver a shock win against USA (7).

The Black Sticks have also suffered an upset early on, losing to Japan on Tuesday night 2-1. This came after coming an impressive opening round win over Belgium. It is an unpredictable game.

As they watched the upsets unfold around them, there is no doubt our girls would have felt anxious as they ran out onto the field in front of a sold-out crowd in London. It can be absolutely terrifying.

Having had the pleasure of wearing the black dress in two World Cup campaigns with the Black Sticks, I can tell you that no matter how well you prepare, the nerves are always there, and they become seriously amplified by the overwhelming noise in a stadium. This makes communication with your teammates that much harder.

We spend hours training, day in and day out to prepare for these tournaments, but nothing can replicate the feeling you get running down that tunnel onto the field. My heart would be pounding so fast, I would have to try to slow my breathing and focus on the game plan. All the scouting we had done, the weaknesses we researched in the opposition - the atmosphere can be incredibly overwhelming and undo your mind if you aren't prepared.

Former Black Stick Katie Glynn says noise and nerves plays a massive part at big tournaments. GETTY IMAGES

A lot of the hockey stadium designs are very intimate. The crowd is close, the noise is huge, and with the game now being played so quickly, it is very hard at times to keep composed and to keep focussed.

Leadership is vital. Coming together and supporting each other is crucial.

We are not paid athletes, we play and train together because we love the game. It is a huge privilege and honour to wear the fern, and in tournaments like these you have to put everything you have on the table to be successful.

Seasoned Black Sticks coach Mark Hager is always one to think outside the box. He considers everything in order to prepare the girls for clutch matches, as sometimes that extra one per cent can truly be the difference.

Whether it's preparing for the noise in the build-up by training in ear plugs, or having screaming crowd noises play over loud speakers simulating the tournament, or setting up "what if" scenarios - Mark always does his best to have the girls ready for anything.

Playing under Mark's leadership, you feel his genuine belief. He always backs you and makes you feel like you can compete with anyone on the world stage.

The New Zealand team huddle ahead of their match against Japan at the World Cup. GETTY IMAGES

While the Commonwealth Games may not be on the same scale as the world cup or the Olympic Games, that Commonwealth gold couldn't have come at a better time for the Black Sticks. It finally gave us something we'd never had before – the confidence of winning those big games.

Overcoming England in a semifinal shootout (a first time for us), and powering past Australia in the final was all new territory for the Black Sticks, and something I was immensely proud to watch.

After a couple of Commonwealth silver and bronzes and two fourth place Olympic finishes, this group has finally overcome something they spent a long time trying to do, and now they have a taste for gold that is going to be very powerful in this world cup.

Hockey is a global game, and I predict more upsets to come in this World Cup. The format of the tournament is cut throat and every game is important.

The experience of Sam Charlton, Stacey Michelsen, Anita McLaren and Ella Gunson is going to be vital for the success of the Black Sticks. They are smart players, who have the ability to control the game and break open opposition.

But the crunch for me will be when the pressure goes on these players and opposition look to shut them down. How will the others around them rise to the challenge? I guess only time will tell.


Hockeyroos Rue Missed Chances In Belgium Draw

Ben Somerford

The Hockeyroos have moved into top spot in Pool D at the 2018 Women’s World Cup following a goalless draw with Belgium at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre in London on Tuesday night (AEST).

Fifth-ranked Australia and 13th-ranked Belgium couldn’t be split, although the Hockeyroos were left to rue their inability to convert any of their six penalty corners.

Australia lost the possession count narrowly 51-49, but won penalty corners 6-0, shots 10-3 and circle penetrations 25-8.

The result does confirm the Hockeyroos’ spot in the knockout stages, securing third place in the pool at a minimum.

Australia is next in action on Sunday (5am AEST) when they face 2018 Commonwealth Games conquerors New Zealand, who suffered a shock 2-1 loss to Japan on Tuesday, to determine final placings in the pool.

The Hockeyroos sit top of Pool D with four points from two games, while New Zealand and Japan are locked on three points, with Belgium last with one point.

Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin said: “It was a very tough match. Credit to Belgium, they played a pretty solid game and made it even.

“We’re disappointed that we didn’t execute our skills well enough to get the result we wanted.”

He added: “We know New Zealand pretty well. It’s about execution in the circles.

“That was one of our goals and we didn’t quite get there today.”

In young forward Grace Stewart’s 50th match, the opening quarter brought few chances although Australia tested Belgium late on with a pair of short corners.

Young Gold Coast forward Rosie Malone tested Belgian keeper Aisling D’Hooghe with a flat reverse stick shot early in the second period, while Australian custodian Rachael Lynch got down well to thwart Barbara Nelen down the other end shortly after.

Australia spurned two penalty corners shortly prior to half-time, while Georgina Morgan brought out another D’Hooghe save with a 41st minute drag flick.

The impressive Brooke Peris was green carded in the 42nd minute and in her absence Lynch had to produce a top double save to deny both Alix Gerniers and Jill Boon with the follow-up.

Emily Hurtz was yellow carded in the 50th minute and Belgium almost capitalised on their numerical advantage again, but Lynch heroically blocked a good diving chance from Anne-Sophie Weyns.

The Hockeyroos came close to winning the game in the final minute, when Malone drove forward and fired in a shot which forced D’Hooghe into a save. Peris pounced on the rebound but the Belgian keeper denied her too.

Australia 0
Belgium 0

Hockey Australia media release

Toman: We can't wait to get back out there

Anna Toman in action against India

Defender Anna Toman says England are raring to go ahead of their second Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup pool game against the USA.

England began their campaign with a 1-1 draw with India as Lily Owsley grabbed a late equaliser on the opening day of the tournament.

Toman explained that the team were disappointed to only draw their opener but are looking forward to returning to action, she said: “We are really looking forward to getting back out there as it’s a little different to a normal tournament in that we have three days off.

“We were disappointed with the draw against India as we felt we dominated as a team and want to get back out there and prove ourselves in this tournament.

A crowd of over 10,000 cheered on England on Saturday, support that will be repeated on Wednesday night and Toman praised the fans for their support.

She added: “They were absolutely brilliant, I think they really helped us get that goal. When we ran out I had goosebumps and when we scored I had goosebumps again! It was really special and hopefully they can help us again on Wednesday.”

The USA lost to Ireland 3-1 in their first game in pool B and Toman says they have a game plan in place for the clash on Wednesday night.

“We have played them a few times already so we know their strengths and weaknesses. They are a fit and strong team and we are as well. We know what to do and we have our game plan and we will stick to it.”

England Hockey Board Media release

Focusing on goalkeeper weaknesses not healthy, says USA coach

By Daniel Dunne

Phil Edwards is assistant head coach of the US Women.

As they did in 2014, England will line up against the USA with an Englishman on the opposition. Craig Parnham was the US for their successful campaign in The Hague.

Four years on, Phil Edwards is the assistant head coach on the women’s national hockey team. Appointed in 2017, bringing a wealth of skills and experience in working with young players to the coaching staff, Edwards has previously served as the goalkeeper coach for the women’s U17, U19 and U21 national teams.

In his playing days he was actually part of the England U18 team, something he says has helped him understand how new players may feel coming into a team.

“I was only in the U18 group for a brief time and was never selected to go on tour, so I really only got a small taste of the junior international experience,” he tells The Hockey Paper.

“However, that team had a lot of athletes who had played for the various England age group teams for a number of years and I was the new guy, so I am always mindful of how the newcomers may be feeling when they arrive at our camps for the first time.”

As well as playing with the England U18 team, Edwards also graduated at Loughborough University in 2005 after leading Loughborough University to back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003. He also added three national indoor championships (2003, 2004, 2005) before turning to coaching and extending his experiences of being a goalkeeper to the younger generation.

Being part of a successful team can often push coaches into being over-critical of players, specifically when it’s their former position that they coach. Edwards, despite being in this position, believes it’s better to focus on what a player can bring to the table rather than focus on their weaknesses.

“Part of my role involves working closely with the goalkeepers and the specialist coaches we bring in to work with them, so I definitely keep a close eye on them. However, I don’t think this equates to being more critical of them. Each of the goalkeepers has their own unique way of doing things and their own strengths and weaknesses. We tend to spend more time working on their strengths and then playing to them than we do focusing on their weaknesses.”

During his coaching career Edwards has been building his résumé by working at Boston College and being the interim Head Coach at Indiana University.

Having acquired a master’s degree in sport science including a specialty in performance analysis and skill acquisition, he’s also a Level 5 accredited analyst from the International Society of Performance Analysis. With over a decade of experience in coaching Edwards knows what it takes to make it to the top of the game.

“The physical piece is important, there must be a certain level of physical competency to be able to play at this level, especially within the USA field hockey culture. Also, they obviously need to have a certain level of technical competency, and some stand out if they have a specialist skill such as a drag flick.

“Away from that, I like to see players who have game sense – they can read the game and solve things on the fly. I value creativity, which is easily squashed in some development environments, on the ball which is sometimes more evident in those athletes who have had less formal coaching growing up. And, critically, can they do this under pressure. It’s also always interesting to observe how they interact with their teammates, coaches and families before, during and after games.”

Edwards was with Team USA when they had a four-game series against the Netherlands in January this year. The series didn’t quite go according to plan as they lost all four games, however there’s still a strong sense of optimism in Edward’s words.

He says: “We learnt a lot from that series against the Dutch. Any time you get to play that calibre of opposition you can’t help but take something from the game. We saw growth across the four games so there was immediate feedback, but we’ve also seen some long-term benefits.”

Edwards is slowly working up the coaching ladder and with the experience of the World Cup, the chances of seeing him lead a team in the future remain strong. While he’s currently in charge of the U21s for Team USA alongside the assistant coach role, could we see him stepping up sooner rather than later?

“I’m not in a rush. I read something the other day that said that the best form of athlete development is coach development which fits nicely with my thoughts on continuous personal development. I spend a lot of time reflecting on my own coaching practice with the aim of being better myself to help the athletes get better. So, that is my focus right now.”

The Hockey Paper

Fan central offers something for everyone

Fans from the Netherlands enjoying time in Fan Central. Pic credit Simon Parker/England Hockey

With more than 16,000 people visiting the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup over the first weekend of competition, it is no surprise that the arena at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre was rocking.

However visitors to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have also been delighted and amazed to find another facility popping up to cater for the thousands of people visiting the largest women's team sport event to be held in the UK this year.

If the Hockey Arena has been turned into the host nation's own hockey fortress, then Fan Central is the united nations, where hockey lovers from around the world can come together and celebrate the sport.

The facility, which can be found part way along the Walk of Stars, is full of retailers and food and drink outlets, as well as a giant screen where fans can relax and watch the game if they do not have tickets.

Many fans with tickets for one of the day's sessions are either starting their day at Fan Central if they have tickets for the second session or returning their once they leave the Arena after the end of session one.

"There is such a brilliant atmosphere here, we have been to Fan Central several times over the past two days because it is a great place to come between matches," said Fiona Shaw of Ipswich, who was with her daughter Heather to watch the opening two days of hockey activity.

And Jonny Grange, a Hockey Maker, added: "The fans are absolutely loving Fan Central, there is a real party atmosphere and it is great to see so many people meeting up with friends they probably haven't seen since the last World Cup."

Visitors to Fan Central begin their journey by following the trail of hockey stars that are painted onto the pathway. Superstars such as Maartje Paumen, Luciana Aymar and Naomi Van As guide the way to the retail area. Once there, the ever cheerful Hockey Makers are on hand to offer guidance and assistance.

Among the many attractions is the official retail partner Adidas, where many of the international hockey stars are making appearances over the course of the competition. Alongside Adidias are a number of other hockey specialists, selling a huge range of hockey equipment.

Another attraction that is drawing in visitors of all ages is The Hockey Museum. The interactive activities, plus the wealth of hockey history on display is really incredible and is a fantastic showcase for hockey's rich tradition.

There are also activities, demonstrations and autograph/selfie opportunities taking place throughout the tournament. The competing teams are making scheduled appearance throughout the competition, so this is a great chance to meet some of the hockey superstars who are making this World Cup such a dramatic spectacle.

Fan Central is yet another way that the organisers of this Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup have really addressed the challenge of making hockey an accessible sport that appeals to people of all ages and abilities.

For more information on Fan Central, plus a schedule of visiting national teams, click here.

FIH site

2018 CAC Games (W) - Day 5
Barranquilla (COL)

Results 24 July

BAR v GUA (Pool B)     10 - 1
MEX v GUY (Pool A)     2 - 0
JAM v TTO (Pool B)     0 - 1
CUB v DOM (Pool A)     3 - 2

Pool standings

Pool A

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Mexico 3 3 0 0 6 0 6 9
2 Cuba 3 2 0 1 5 5 0 6
3 Dominican Republic 3 1 0 2 6 4 2 3
4 Guyana 3 0 0 3 0 8 -8 0

Pool B

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Trinidad & Tobago 3 3 0 0 15 1 14 9
2 Barbados 3 2 0 1 12 3 9 6
3 Jamaica 3 1 0 2 5 2 3 3
4 Guatemala 3 0 0 3 1 27 -26 0

FIH Match Centre

Cuba edge past Domincan Republic for semi-final spot

Damian Gordon

Fair Play - Cuba vs. Dominican Republic. Photo: Juan Armesto / PAHF

Day 5 was decider day for the women. Six of the eight teams came into the day with a mathematical chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. Mexico's was the only team already guaranteed a place.

Match 1 Pool B – Barbados (BAR) vs. Guatemala (GUA)

BAR came into the match in control of their destiny, needing a win to put pressure on JAM to beat table toppers TTO. They got the perfect start, needing only 17 seconds to steal the ball from the GUA midfielder on the way to an Ayanna WILSON goal. BAR took complete control of the game, but GUA slowly started to find their way. They eventually created a circle entry and put the BAR team under pressure, but it did not last long. BAR regained control to score 3 more goals before the quarter ended with the score at 4-0.

BAR continued to dominate the game in Q2, but the GUA defence was up to the task. Despite earning multiple PCs BAR was unable to score. Then in the 27th minute GUA got a counterattack on the right and the cross was scored by Desideria BERNARDO. The goal pushed BAR to respond and they finished the quarter strongly, scoring two PCs. The halftime score was BAR 6-1 GUA.

BAR continued their dominance in Q3, pressing high and attacking the GUA circle continuously. GUA was tenacious in their defending and they kept their opponents out throughout. BAR scored their 1st PC of the quarter with D’Jamila Edwards, but could not add another as the Q3 horn sounded.

Q4 got off to a quick start with two BAR PC goals before settling into the familiar pattern of play in the GUA defensive 23-metre area. GUA did manage a couple attacks, but were unable to score. BAR kept coming and they eventually reached double figures from yet another PC goal just before the end. They pushed for one more goal, but GUA were able to put the ball in the BAR half until the final horn sounded. Final score BAR 10-1 GUA.

Match 2 Pool A – Mexico (MEX) vs. Guyana (GUY)

With no chance of qualifying for the semi-finals GUY came into the match with pride uppermost in their mind. Despite already qualifying for the semi-finals, MEX had no intention of easing up. They needed just 5 minutes for Fernanda OVIEDO to give them the lead from a FG. GUY had no intention of making things easy and they managed to prevent any other goals before the Q1 horn sounded.

MEX continued to press in Q2, but GUY started keeping possession for a few short periods. This helped their defence stay fresh in the Baranquilla heat as they were not forced to chase the ball. They also managed a few 23-metre penetrations, but the MEX defence easily kept them off the score sheet. MEX continued to dominate possession, but were unable to score any more goals before the horn sounded for halftime.

MEX needed only 14 seconds in Q3 to score their second goal of the match. They pressured the GUY goal in search of more, but found Alysa XAVIER tough to beat. XAVIER made a number of crucial saves. Q3 ended with the score still MEX 2-0 GUY.

MEX’s dominance continued into Q4 and the GUY defence continued to deny them any additional goals. The ball did not get into the MEX half often and when it did, it did not stay for very long. For their dominance, MEX were unable to score as XAVIER put in an excellent performance. The final horn sounded on a 2-0 win for MEX, who await confirmation of their semi-final opponents.

Match 3 Pool B – Jamaica (JAM) vs. Trinidad & Tobago (TTO)

After BAR’s big earlier JAM needed a win over Pool B leaders TTO by at least 6 goals to qualify for the semi-finals. They started the more aggressive of the teams, pushing TTO back into their defensive 23-metre area for most of Q1. Besides a PC, they were unable to create anything dangerous and by the end of the quarter TTO was starting to force the play more to the middle of the field.

Early in Q2 TTO started gradually taking control of the game, earning a PC of their own that was well blocked by the JAM defenders. Despite having more possession now, TTO could not create any clear chances and the halftime horn came with the score still 0-0.

TTO continued to control the possession and flow of the game, putting JAM under early pressure. The pressure paid off when they earned a PS that Shaniah DE FREITAS put away for a 0-1 lead. The PS was her 5th goal of the tournament, putting her on top of the goal scorers list. TTO went in search of a second and they came close a few times, but Lorie-Ann McINTOSH made some good saves to keep the score 0-1 at the end of Q3.

Q4 started with TTO pressing for their second, but it was JAM who slowly started working the ball around. This slowed the pace of the game down which did not suit TTO who started making mistakes. JAM created a few chances, but Petal DERRY was alert making some comfortable saves to protect her team’s lead. JAM took control of the match searching for the equaliser and came close but a shot from Shareeka ELLIOTT narrowly missed the far post. The final horn sounded on a keenly contested game with the 0-1 win for TTO. The result meant that TTO and BAR qualify for the semi-finals with JAM and GUA preparing for 5-8th playoff matches.

Match 4 Pool A – Cuba (CUB) vs. Dominican Republic (DOM)

Our final match was a virtual quarter-final matchup between the Caribbean rivals, the winner moving on to the semi-finals to join MEX, TTO and BAR. DOM could move on with a draw. DOM started the match the better of the two, earning the first PC of the match that was easily blocked by the CUB team. They earned a second soon after which Lucia NAVAMUEL scored with a clever lob over Yusnaidy BETANCOURT in the CUB goal. DOM continued to control the game, earning a couple more PCs without adding to their score. Q1 ended with the score 0-1.

CUB started to get into rhythm, controlling the pace of the game with long passes leading to one-on-one situations. They started earning PCs and eventually one of them was scored when Yuraima VERA flicked past GK Paola DE LA CRUZ. CUB went in search of more goals, completely in control of the possession and flow of the game. They got what they were looking for when VERA hit past DE LA CRUZ with seconds to go in Q2. The halftime horn sounded with CUB leading 2-1.

Q3 saw an increase in the intensity of the game with more fouls and strong tackles. CUB earned a PC and Yaniuska PASO drilled it in the bottom corner to give them a 3-1 lead. DOM did not give up and they earned a PS that Bennifer MORONTA scored to keep the game interesting. The action moved end to end, but the horn sounded for a 3-2 score.

DOM came out aggressively looking for the equaliser that would send them into the semi-finals. The CUB defence kept them out while looking for counterattacking opportunities. Neither team was prepared to give anything away and a fierce midfield battle kept the spectators on the edge of their seats. The final horn sounded, and CUB earned a semi-final spot with their 3-2 win.

So the semi-finals will see MEX vs BAR and TTO vs. CUB The 5-8th playoffs see DOM vs. GUA and JAM vs. GUY.

Tomorrow is the final round of Pool play for the men which is beautifully poised as all 4 Pool A teams have a mathematical chance of moving on the semi-finals. Guyana have their fate in their hands, needing a win over Guatemala to guarantee a semi-final position. See you tomorrow for MEX vs. DOM, TTO vs. JAM, GUY vs. GUA, and CUB vs. BAR.

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

African Youth Games 2018
Algiers (ALG)

African Youth Games 2018 (M)

Results 24 July

Bye v ZIM (M 5/7)
NAM v ALG (M 5/7) 1 - 0 (0 - 0)
RSA v NGR (SF1) 5 - 2 (2 - 1)
KEN v ZAM (SF2) 1 - 4 (0 - 2)

African Youth Games 2018 (W)

Results 24 July

RSA v NAM (RR)     2 - 1 (1 - 1)
NGR v GHA (RR)     0 - 2 (0 - 2
ZIM v ALG (RR)     10 - 0 (6 - 0)

Pool standings

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 South Africa 5 4 1 0 36 6 30 13
2 Namibia 5 3 1 1 24 8 16 10
3 Ghana 5 3 0 2 23 8 15 9
4 Zimbabwe 5 2 2 1 20 10 10 8
5 Nigeria 5 1 0 4 2 17 -15 3
6 Algeria 5 0 0 5 1 57 -56 0

FIH Match Centre

Eager to win gold at Asian Games, says Rupinder Pal Singh

Indian Hockey. PTI

Boosted by a strong comeback in the three-match series against New Zealand last week, ace drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh says the Indian hockey team is eager to carry forward the momentum into the upcoming Asian Games and win the gold medal.

"Personally for me, playing against a quality team like New Zealand who won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games was very important. Since I had missed out all the action during the Champions Trophy, I had to find my rhythm ahead of the Asian Games in Jakarta," Rupinder said.

The Commonwealth Games in April was Rupinder's last appearance for the Indian team at a major International event. A hamstring injury during the quadrennial event meant that he had to be rested for the Champions Trophy where the team finished runners up.

While the team was up against top teams in the world, Rupinder had to remain in the national camp and work on his fitness.

"It is frustrating for any player to be watching the team play on TV but it was critical for me to undergo rehab in order to be match-fit and available for the Asian Games selections," Rupinder expressed after the 3-0 series win against New Zealand.

In order to gain momentum again, Rupinder appeared in four practice matches against Bangladesh early this month where he scored 10 goals through penalty corners and played two practice matches against South Korea where he scored one goal.

"I think having Bangladesh, South Korea and New Zealand visit us ahead of major tournaments was a blessing in disguise. The team tried out different combinations and tested different variations in converting PC. We also tried new methods of creating PCs where I think the team did well. Our main criteria was to improve goal scoring," said the 27-year-old from Punjab.

After a successful series against New Zealand, the Indian team has returned home for a week-long break and will re-join the National Camp on August 1. At the Asian Games, Indian Men's Team is grouped in Pool A with Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Hong Kong China.

In the camp before the team leaves for Jakarta, Rupinder said the team will further work on the specific areas to ensure they have left no stone unturned in their preparations for the Asian Games.

"The one-week break will help us rejuvenate as some of us have been in the National Camp continuously since April 28. When we return to camp, the team will sit together, watch videos from our matches against New Zealand and try and find out ways to improve further. We are eager to defend the Gold Medal at Asian Games in Jakarta," he concluded.

Daily News & Analysis

Hockey celebrates 2 Years until Tokyo 2020 begins

Australia goalkeeper Rachael Lynch is one of many athletes looking forward to Tokyo 2020 Photo: FIH

The hockey world celebrated two years to go until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games today as stars of the game looked towards Japan's showcase event that will take place between 24 July and 9 August.

Many Olympians and future stars are currently competing in the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup London 2018 which concludes on 5 August. Despite their focus being centred on this year's ultimate prize, Olympic ambitions are becoming increasingly relevant as the days count down to 2020's pinnacle event.

"The Olympics are so special because it's that one massive event we all watched when we were growing up. It's only once every four years and everyone really gets behind all the sports."
Helen Richardson-Walsh, Rio 2016 Gold Medallist, Great Britain

Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist from Great Britain, Helen Richardson-Walsh, has now retired but as a Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games Athlete Role Model, she knows just how important the Olympic Games are for athletes. She said: "The Olympics are so special because it's that one massive event we all watched when we were growing up. It's only once every four years and everyone really gets behind all the sports. And for us (English athletes), it's extra special as we get to represent Team GB and have the entire country behind us. I have many amazing memories from the Olympics that will remain with me forever. "

Currently competing in London, one of Japan's rising stars, Yui Ishibashi, admitted she is looking forward to a home Olympics. She said: "We are super excited that hockey is coming to Japan in two year's time at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It will be such an opportunity to showcase our sport. The whole squad is super excited at the thought of playing hockey in front of a home crowd in two years. We are so proud of our shirt and we have and a lot of comments about how beautiful it is (in London). We want to make everyone proud of the Cherry Blossoms at the Tokyo Olympics."

Another London World Cup competitor and Rio 2016 Olympian, Australia goalkeeper Rachael Lynch said: "It took me three cycles to get to an Olympics, Rio was my first. I put a lot of work in to get there. I learnt from each experience. It's really exciting going to Olympics but the preparation is key. Two years to go, that's pretty exciting."

Argentina’s Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist Gonzalo Peillat also shared his ambitions for Tokyo 2020. He said: “I’m really excited about the prospect of reaching my third Olympic Games and will be hoping my previous experience can provide confidence to some of the younger members of the squad. My ambition is always to win – it’s something that I'm not willing to negotiate in any aspect. Of course it’s going to be difficult to win the Olympic gold medal back-to-back after Rio, but what is better than a challenge like that?”

FIH CEO Thierry Weil added: “Whilst our focus is currently on the Vitality Hockey World Cup London 2018, excitement for Tokyo is already growing within our sport. The success of this event is a direct result of Great Britain women’s success in Rio, which has propelled the sport to unseen levels. We look forward to continuing this momentum for the next two years as we get ready for what will be an incredible Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.”

In the past few days, the official session schedule for the hockey events were revealed by the host organising committee following approval by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Taking place between 25 July and 7 August, the hockey events will be held at the new Seaside Park Hockey Stadium within Oi Central Seaside Park in the Shinagawa area of Tokyo.

Like Rio, this venue will contain two competition fields. With a 10,000 seat capacity the main field will host many matches including the medal games - the men's on the 6th and women's on the 7th of August. A second field with 5,000 seats will also host a number of the Pool matches.

The Japan Hockey Association will use these facilities as a legacy performance venue to develop the very best talent in the nation following the Olympics.

As with the previous Olympic Games, the hockey events will comprise of an 'Equally Amazing' line-up, with 12 men's and 12 women's teams taking part. These will include the winners of the Olympic Qualification Events in November 2019, the new Continental champions and the hosts Japan.

As an overview, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games sees an action-packed programme, featuring a record 33 sports and 339 events, running from 24 July until 9 August 2020.

Tokyo 2020 will use a total of 42 venues, including 24 existing, ten temporary and eight new permanent venues. These will include three venues in Fukushima, Ibaraki, and Miyagi prefectures, which were among those most affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

The competition schedule by session outlines the start time and finish time of each session, and is subject to change. The more detailed schedule by event will identify the individual times of specific events (e.g. heats, semi-finals, finals, classification matches) that will take place within each session. The competition schedule by event will be announced by the spring of 2019. For details of the schedule, please visit: https://tokyo2020.org/en/games/sport/olympic-schedule

FIH site

Cox a major coup for Irish senior men’s team

Alexander Cox in coaching mode with SV Kampong on the EHL. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

Irish hockey have secured a major coup with the announcement of Alexander Cox as the new senior men’s coach for the upcoming World Cup campaign and the hope he can be pinned down on a longer-term basis.

The vacancy came up following Craig Fulton’s shock decision to depart the role he had made his own in June to become the Belgian assistant coach.

Given the proximity to November’s World Cup – a first since 1990 – expectations were low as to who was available but, in Cox, Ireland have landed a coach who has won everywhere he has been.

For the past six years, he has worked with SV Kampong in the Netherlands, leading them to back-to-back national titles in the toughest club league in the world, ending a 32-year drought.

The 40-year-old also won the Euro Hockey League with them in 2016 and was the Dutch Under-21 men’s coach in their Junior European gold medal success.

Previously, he worked as an assistant coach with the Dutch men and women’s teams at the 2012 Olympics where they won silver and gold, respectively.

Taking the job, Cox – who works with Irish skipper David Harte at Kampong – said: “The Irish culture, the work ethic and persistency of the team, motivates me to start our preparation towards the World Cup in India. I’m looking forward to working with the team, staff and Hockey Ireland.”

He begins the job on August 1st following the Four Nations Cup in Dusseldorf where Ireland defend their title against Germany, Argentina and France this weekend.

Given Irish hockey’s recent financial travails, obtaining a coach of his stature does come with caveats.

Cox will continue to coach SV Kampong in the Dutch league in tandem with the role and he will be based in the Netherlands throughout.

At this stage, Cox has committed until the end of the World Cup with Hockey Ireland chief executive Jerome Pels saying anything further is still up for discussion.

“The intent is a long-term commitment,” Pels told the Irish Examiner. “The current arrangement, combining the role with Kampong coach is to be reviewed after the World Cup and both parties will sit down on how we move forward after that.”

With over 20 Irish players now based outside of Ireland, predominantly in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, it may well be a decent place to be located. It will lead to queries given the experiences with Andrew Meredith and his ill-fated time in charge after 14 months commuting from Germany. During that time, he called on players to move back to Ireland but intended to continue being based abroad.

Pels says this issue was discussed during the interview stage, saying: “Given the timeline of preparation for the World Cup and the fit with the team, we believe this solution suits us now at this particular moment in time and allowed us to move forward quickly.”

He also expressed confidence that not being in Ireland would not lead to young, domestic-based players being overlooked.

Pels added the nature of the current panel could make it a great fit, particularly in a sport which is currently undergoing seismic changes. The Hockey Pro League comes into being in 2019, a worldwide home and away league that runs for six months and features an invitational list of nine nations.

Ireland did not receive an invite, officially due to a lack of infrastructure, and so the players can play full seasons with professional clubs on the continent, making them more attractive than Spanish, Argentine and New Zealand players who used to fill such roles. It means greater chances to play on a full-time basis with the hope this knocks on to a higher level for the national team.

“There may be some opportunities for us here on how we adapt to this quite unique situation. The FIH has made fundamental changes that are affecting International Hockey and all national hockey federations trying to work out how to best respond to that.”

The announcement comes in the week of Ireland’s last competitive action of the summer, the Four Nations tournament in Dusseldorf when they take on Argentina, France and Germany.

In the squad rotation – managed this week by John Bessell – David Harte is back in along with John Jackson and Matthew Bell. Sam O’Connor, Mitch Darling, Mark Ingram, David Fitzgerald and Shane O’Donoghue step out for this tournament.

Ireland squad (for Four Nations in Dusseldorf, July 26th-29th): David Harte (Captain, SV Kampong), Jamie Carr (Three Rock Rovers), John Jackson (Bath Buccaneers), Jonny Bell (Lisnagarvey), Matthew Bell (Crefelder HTC), Luke Madeley (Three Rock Rovers), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey), Alan Sothern (La Gantoise), Peter Caruth (Annadale), Sean Murray (HC Rotterdam), John McKee (Banbridge), Owen Magee (Banbridge), Michael Robson (Lisnagarvey), Daragh Walsh (Three Rock Rovers), Paul Gleghorne (Crefelder HTC), Jeremy Duncan (Herakles), Lee Cole (Oree), Stuart Loughrey (Hampstead & Westminster), Stephen Cole (Oree)

The Hook

Area field hockey official reaches 'pinnacle' of career with trip to Spain


Cathy Wreski

It’s not often that someone reaches the "pinnacle" of their athletic career at age 58.

That’s exactly the case, however, for an area woman who is likely a familiar face to many in the York County field hockey community.

Cathy Wreski has been officiating high school and college field hockey matches for the past 15 years, including many right here in York County.

Later this month, she’ll be an umpire for the Exin Masters World Cup in Spain. The age-group event is slated for July 27 through Aug. 5 in the Barcelona region. USA Field Hockey will send nine teams to the event — five women’s teams (35s, 40s, 45s, 50s and 55s) and four men’s teams (40s, 45s, 50s and 55s).

“Fifteen years ago, at the age of 43, I never dreamed I would be umpiring at an international event,” Wreski said.

Wreski played field hockey at Owen J. Roberts High School in Pottstown as defensive center back, even managing to score a goal.

That looked like it would be the high point of her athletic career.

She graduated from Penn State, but didn’t play field hockey there. She and her husband, Bob, had three children and Wreski became a stay-at-home mother.

Reconnecting with game: She reconnected with the game when her daughter, Jessica, played for Lower Dauphin High School and later Syracuse University. Wreski would often attend Jessica’s games with her father, who was a longtime PIAA baseball official.

“After hearing me comment continually on the officiating from the stands, he suggested I take the PIAA test to become an official,” Wreski said.

Wreski did just that, and has been successfully officiating ever since. During field hockey season, she said she works games nearly every day at the NCAA or PIAA level. She’s also an officials’ representative on the PIAA District 3 Committee.

“My husband says I’ve been retired all my life,” Wreski joked. “I umpire games whenever it fits in my schedule. Living in central Pennsylvania, there are a lot of field hockey games.”

Reaching "pinnacle:" This past winter, she had the opportunity to umpire an Australia-United States indoor match near Pottstown, but this will be her first international event outside of the United States. She’s also been on the technical staff for several international test matches at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Lancaster County, which serves as the home base for USA Field Hockey.

“When Bob and I became empty-nesters, I had the time to invest in training and I was available to go anywhere to work,” Wreski said. “With the help of some tremendous mentors, every year seemed to bring a new adventure and challenge. This is definitely the pinnacle to date.”

She will travel to Spain with her husband.

“We are both adventurous (and) enjoy trying new foods and love meeting the local people,” Wreski said. “Day trips to the Mediterranean beaches and to the south of France will be mixed in with our exploration of Barcelona.”

It will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a 58-year-old woman who insists that “age is just a number.”

Given her accomplishments over the past 15 years, it’s hard to dispute that point.

York Dispatch

MHC confirm indoor hockey pitch is damaged

By Jugjet Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) have confirmed that six pieces of indoor hockey mat, ripped by unskilled foreign workers after last year’s Kuala Lumpur Sea Games, have been damaged.

This was disclosed by MHC deputy president Datuk Dr S. Shamala today.

However, MHC's hands are tied in this matter as they are still discussing with the KL Sea Games organisers (MASOC) regarding the indoor pitch handover.

Because of ongoing auditing and uncompleted accounts, the artificial pitch is still locked up in a store in Balakong, Selangor.

"Yes, six pieces of the indoor pitch are damaged but the rest of the surface is still playable,” said Shamala.

"We have been in communication with MASOC regarding the issue but they informed MHC that several auditing measures have yet to be resolved and they can't hand it over to us," said Shamala.

When asked if the nearly one-year delay in handover could further damage the mat (due to heat and rats), Shamala said: ‘We hope nothing happens to it during storage, but when we get it, we will probably lay it at a university hall or somewhere to promote the indoor sport.

After the pitch was laid as a temporary measure to host the 2017 KL Sea Games at the Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre, it was thoughtlessly ripped off the floor.

Contractor Kuckreja & Co spokesperson Allan Netto had said the RM250,000 pitch was damaged, and is no longer in playable condition, as chairs and tables were also placed on it during a chess tournament.

Allan said MASOC still owe them more than RM40,000 for additional work done leading up to the Sea Games.

The contractors spokesperson also had said: “Initially we were told to rush the job because a VIP wanted to visit MITEC, and we had to cut corners to get it ready. And after the visit, the pitch did not meet specifications because it was bumpy.

MASOC Chief Executive Officer Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong did not respond to calls and messages earlier today.

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

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