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News for 15 November 2019

All the news for Friday 15 November 2019

BlitzStoks make history while SPAR South Africa continue domination

Picture – Everlasting Clicks / SA Hockey

Like all great movie trilogies, the Indoor Test Series between South Africa and Switzerland men and women, headed into its fourth part in Cape Town. The venue in Western Cape was Sunningdale, a bigger and faster court than the teams had experienced in Durban offering a brilliant and tantalising prospect for the remaining three tests.

The teams had got to know each other in Durban so instead of that awkward first date vibe where you are kind of interviewing one another, this was time for the in-depth conversation about hopes and dreams and your ten-year plan. Okay maybe not quite with the BlitzStoks featuring debutants Mustapha Cassiem, Melrick Maddocks, Kyle Esau, Dayaan Cassiem, Aiden Tun and Marvin Simons. There was also involvement for Jarryd Jones, arguably one of the finest talents in the country.

It was a debut for Mustapha Cassiem to remember as his hat-trick and ultimately seal a remarkable test match for the hosts. In fact, all six of South Africa’s goals in the pulsating 6-5 win were scored by debutants, further reinforcing the wonderful work done by the selection committee for South Africa.

What the thrilling performance of David Joshua’s men has told us further is that the pool of talent for South African indoor hockey is fuller than you after you visit one of those all you can eat buffet spots.

For the South African men, after a long absence from the International stage, have made some great history. The Cassiem brothers becoming the first brothers to score in the same indoor hockey test match for SA, the team winning a first ever test series against European opposition and of course David Joshua remaining undefeated as the Men’s head coach.

For SPAR South Africa they received their sternest test of the series. But just like a dux scholar, even the hardest test could not stop this juggernaut from rolling on. Although Lennie will be unhappy that they conceded three goals, he will be pleased that his team was always in control.

Amy Greaves, Celia Evans and Kara Botes had given the hosts a 3-1 lead after trailing early to a Trosch goal. Stomps made it 3-2 to give the Swiss hope but then a brilliant turnover by Jamie Southgate and an unselfish cross for Cindy Hack led to the skipper netting what would ultimately be the winner.

It remarkably means that the South Africans, ranked 16th in the World, have now beaten Switzerland in 7 of their 9 test matches this year. Such is the domination that the hosts do not enter these competitions as underdogs, but as equals and as value for competition.

Picture – Everlasting Clicks / SA Hockey

The second last test of the series takes place on Friday with the final on Saturday. You can stream the matches on Digitv at http://events.digitv.co.za  

SA Hockey Association media release

Two hours of hockey make or break dreams

Sarah Juggins

Scott Tupper (CAN), Kate Wright (CAN), Kathleen Sharkey (USA), Camila Caram (CHI)   

Over two weekends of frenetic hockey action the final places for the men’s and women’s hockey competitions at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 were decided.

As was to be expected when so much is at stake there was high drama, heartbreak, excitement, joy, and no little controversy.

The format for qualification was new. The teams played each other in a two-match series played on consecutive days. In effect, it was a match of 120 minutes. The matches were played at the home of the higher ranked team. The aggregate score decided the winner, with a shoot-out if the scores remained level by the end of the second game.

Four teams from our region were involved, Canada men and women, USA women and Chile women. History will record that, of those four teams, only Canada men progressed through to the Olympic Games, but that bald fact hides the incredible drama that the teams went through during those two weekends of hockey action.

For Canada men, a visit from Ireland was always going to be a tough fixture. The two teams are close in the world rankings (Canada 10th, Ireland 13th), and they play a similar style of uncompromising, attacking hockey. They are also two nations whose continued support from the national association often comes down to moments such as these.

The first match went the way of Ireland. The Green Machine, as they are known, took the lead early on but then the two teams matched each other goal for goal until the last 10 minutes of the game. The visitors then put their collective foot on the accelerator and scored twice through Sean Murray and Shane O’Donoghue to take a 5-3 lead.

In a pertinent reminder to everyone involved in this event, Jonathan Bell of Ireland, speaking after the game said: “It was a good first half performance but that was all it was.”

While the 3-5 result was exciting, the crowds who flocked to Rutledge Field for the second match were in for even more of a roller-coaster. Canada’s hopes of reaching the Olympics for the second consecutive edition looked to have been dealt a serious blow when Ireland scored in the sixth minute to take a 6-3 aggregate lead, but what happened next was the stuff of dreams – or nightmares if you were Irish.

Gordon Johnston and Oliver Scholfield took the score to 2-1 on the day (5-6 on aggregate) and then, with just a few seconds on the clock Jamie Wallace burst into the Ireland circle. His run was ended when he was knocked from the ball by Ireland’s Lee Cole. The whistle for full-time blew but Canada had already signalled a referral. The decision went to the video umpire, who awarded a penalty stroke for the foul.

The uproar from the Irish team as they protested the decision all added to the tension of the moment. A person with an extraordinarily calm temperament was needed in that moment, and so up stepped captain Scott Tupper. In the most pressurised of circumstances, Tupper slammed the ball home and sent his team into the shoot-out.

Still Ireland held the upper hand as they took a 3-1 lead in the shoot-out but then Jamie Wallace and Adam Froese brought the shoot-out scores to 3-3. A sudden death situation followed and again, it was Froese who scored, sending Canada to Tokyo.

Speaking after the game, Canada’s head coach Paul Bundy said: “The biggest priority for us was to double qualify (following Canada’s participation in the 2016 Olympic Games) because of the legacy of those alumni that were around the pitch today and the young kids out there that can also see our sport on the Olympic scene.

“(The team) give me so many grey hairs but I had no doubt that we would play much better today and we did. We executed the game plan and we got into a shootout and we know David (Carter) is great in shootouts. That dream and that vision we had four years ago just continues.”

An emotional Scott Tupper added his own thoughts: “It's unbelievable. No real words for it. It's amazing. Obviously, we weren't in the best spot after yesterday. We were feeling pretty down. You never know what's going to happen. For the guys to perform in the shootout is unbelievable. This is surreal."

In an almost mirror image of the men’s result, Canada women’s match in Dublin against the women of Ireland saw the visiting side laid out on the pitch in agony and despair after their Olympic dreams were snatched away through the cruel medium of the shoot-out.

The game itself was played on a portable pitch in Dublin and both teams had to contend with horrendous weather conditions for the first game as the rain poured down throughout the fixture. But both the pitch and the teams held firm – in fact, there are probably few teams in the world better equipped to deal with heavy rain than these two protagonists – and the first match was a feisty and busy 0-0 draw.

Despite a disparity in world rankings (Ireland are ranked 8th and Canada 15th), there continued to be nothing to separate the two teams over 120 minutes of pitch time. No goals were scored and, if truth be told, neither team much looked like scoring. Amanda Woodcroft and Sara McManus deserve a mention because of their outstanding contributions to the defence in both games. Woodcroft in particular was a thorn in the Irish attack’s side as she continuously managed to break down everything the Green Army could throw her way. 

And so the game went to the dreaded shoot-out.

Canada shot into a 3-1 lead as Stephanie Norlander, Amanda Woodcroft and Sara McManus (penalty stroke after a foul on Kate Wright) all scored. The next Canadian to step up was Brienne Stairs, but the usually infallible Stairs was unable to get past Ayeisha McFerran in the Ireland goal. Shanlee Johnston also missed and, with Ireland scoring from the next two attempts, the game went to sudden death. The impetus has shifted the way of the home side and just like that the dream was over: Woodcroft missed her second shoot-out attempt and Ireland’s Roisin Upton made amends for her earlier miss to send Ireland to Tokyo for the first time in the nation’s history.

Reflecting back on the result a week later, Canada’s captain Kate Wright says: “It is pretty difficult to put into words how I am feeling. We were completely devastated after the games in Ireland. We were so close to achieving our dreams and I don’t think I will ever get over that. Feelings tend to come in waves – disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness – it seems to all be there. We worked so hard to get to where we are today and to have qualified for the Olympics would have been truly unbelievable and with every ounce of my being I believed we could do it. As I reflect on this year, I am extremely proud of my team. Not many people would have been able to do what we did this year.”

For Canada women, the past two years have been focused on reaching the Olympic Games, with the team moving en bloc to Belgium in Europe to train and play as full-time athletes. That sort of commitment is not sustainable and so the next few weeks will see a lot of soul searching among the players, as they ask themselves if they want to continue to put their lives on hold.

As someone who has been in the squad for 13 years, Kate Wright knows the level of sacrifice her players have made: “We have had to fundraise, to create a WNT Business and Partnership Club, find a jersey sponsor, and pay out of pocket for the program to live this year, all while moving across the world to play in Europe. We have done it all on our own.

“As a team, we can look back and be proud knowing we gave it our all. It is hard to believe that a two game series between eighth ranked Ireland and 15th ranked Canada ended in a 0-0 aggregate score for both teams. We competed, we left everything we had out there and we showed the world the potential of the Canadian Women’s Field Hockey team. It seems as if we were just missing a bit of luck.”

Chile arrived in London with hopes of causing a huge upset as they faced the reigning Olympic champions Great Britain. A goalless first half gave the South American team a lot of confidence but Great Britain gradually made in-roads into the Chile circle and by the time the final whistle blew at the end of the first game, Great Britain had a solid, if unremarkable, 3-0 lead.

The second day saw Chile continue to take the game to Great Britain and a 2-1 scoreline at full time was a fair result for the Diablas, who had shown moments of real class but at other times had been out manoeuvred by the highly experienced Great Britain team. The aggregate 5-1 scoreline may have been greater but for the excellence of Claudia Schuler in the Chile goal. Chile’s own goal came from Fernanda Villagran, who scored from a corner.

Ahead of the game, Chile’s head coach Sergio Vigil had spoken of his player’s excitement at the prospect of sharing the stage with a top ranked team such as Great Britain. When it came down to it, the Chile team performed well but there was still a big difference in the level of intensity during the match between the two sides. For large periods of both games Great Britain were in possession and their patient build-up was perhaps the main difference. With the Chile players spending valuable energy chasing the ball, there was little left in reserve to set up their own attacks.

Camila Caram, Chile’s hard-working captain was at the heart of much of the action and she had this to say about the matches: “We knew the games against Great Britain would be very tough. We gave our best at times, but we are still lacking the skills to be able to cope with the pressure big teams put upon us. Great Britain is a very physical team, and they are very aggressive in the ‘D’. We worked well on our defence, but we failed to have strength in our attacks. And short corners were our weapon, but they found a way to defend them well.

“Losing against the Olympic Champions 3-0 and 2-1, shows us that we aren't that far away. At times we played very good hockey, but it's not enough to show it at times, we need to keep up the whole 60 minutes.”

USA will see the past two years as a period that is best moved on from. Their slide down the world rankings to 13th – their lowest position since 2010 – mean they had to travel to India to play their Olympic Qualifier. The temperature, the climate and the crowds are all factors that have flawed teams visiting the hockey-mad nation. Ahead of the matches Janneje Schopman had done her home work. She had spoken at length to the USA men’s squad who had competed in Bhubaneswar in the FIH Series Finals in June. A call had also been made to Netherlands coach Max Caldas, whose team has played in India many times before.

The major stumbling block however was a lack of knowledge about Asia hockey. “Typically, we don't play Asian countries often,” said Schopman. “Obviously, everybody watches videos (of the opposition) but the actual experience of playing an Asian team is challenging and you kind of want to experience that. We have a lot of players who have never played India. We have tried to prepare them the best we can.”

The lack of experience against an Asian team showed in the first match as India weathered a storm of attacking play in which USA should have scored at least three goals before India scored five goals of their own. The USA scored one goal to go into day two needing at least five goals to win.

That USA came so close to hitting their target in the second game is a measure of how well the team can play. By half time USA were 4-0 up on the day and 5-5 on aggregate. Lessons from the previous day should have taught them not to let India have a sniff of a goal though, because in the 48th minute, as USA were temporarily down to 10 after Alyssa Manley was shown a yellow card, India’s captain, Rani picked up a ball in the USA circle and smashed it home. The host nation, having inched ahead again, shut the door for the remaining 22 minutes and USA found themselves with no Olympic berth for the first time since 2004.

Just what these results means for the teams is difficult to say right now. For Chile and Canada, who do not have the prospect of the Pro League ahead of them – as USA do – this next 12 months will be a lean time when it comes to international competition. Camila Caram sums up the situation. “Being out of the Olympics means that you don't get to compete at all that year. It's harsh, because all the top teams will be competing in the Pro League, and then they will have all the preparation for the Olympics, so they will get lots and lots of test matches. But for the teams that don't qualify for the Olympics, and don't participate in the Pro League, they will inevitably lose momentum in the preparation they have been building.

“Us [Chile] and Canada are completely amateur teams. We have to live a double life, combining work, play, studying and training. That makes it very tough to compete with the top teams whose athletes are professional. So when an amateur team plays against a professional one and only loses by one or two goals, that’s a great achievement.”

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

Creating scoreboard pressure on rivals will be crucial, says Indian hockey star PR Sreejesh

File image of PR Sreejesh.

Ace hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh says creating scoreboard pressure will be key to India's campaign at the Olympics and improvement in this area is a must in lead up to the Tokyo Games.

India qualified for next year's Olympics after beating Russia 11-3 on aggregate in Bhubaneswar in the FIH Qualifiers earlier this month.

Sreejesh, regarded one of the best goalkeepers in the world, is expected to man the Indian goal in Tokyo.

"The Olympic qualifier is history now and we now need to look forward. In Olympics we are going to get high-intensity matches. We are looking forward to playing against all top teams," Sreejesh said.

"With just nine months left, we need to look at all areas — penalty corner conversions, attack and defence. We will have to work on creating more scoreboard pressure on our opponents in Olympics," he added.

He also said that playing against top teams during the upcoming FIH Pro League will be an ideal preparation for India ahead of Olympics.

After opting out of maiden season last year, India will make its debut at the FIH Pro League against the Netherlands in a home fixture on 18 and 19 January.

India will host their first six matches. After facing the Dutch, they will take on Belgium on 8-9 February followed by matches against defending champions and World No 1 Australia on 22-23 February.

"Pro League is replica of the Olympics according to me. Every match will be intense, every match will be of Olympic standard. In Pro League we will get the opportunity to handle pressure against top teams which will be beneficial for us in the Olympics," Sreejesh said during the launch of leading Australian performance nutrition brand Musashi here through their Indian partner Smart Brands.

Nine teams, both and men women, will part of the league.


India drop Azlan Shah Cup Bombshell

By Satwant Dhaliwal

Indian coach Graham Reid has confirmed that his team will not be participating in the 2020 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

A tweet from India’s Hockey writer Jaspreet Saini confirmed the fact after his interview with the coach.

The men’s hockey calendar for 2020 on the Hockey India website has no mention of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, a tournament that India has regularly participated in.

But it may not be the case for the 29th edition of Malaysia’s premier event.

Reid confirmed that, though with a rider.

“No, Azlan Shah we are not (playing). That’s the latest I’ve heard, unless Malaysia come back and change the dates. But at the moment, I don’t think we are (going). So, therefore, we will have to work out what we do in that period. But I’m also not so concerned about that because it is a pretty full competition schedule with the Pro League,” said the Australian, who was appointed in April this year.

With the FIH Pro League on during that period, we can also discount the possibility of the likes of Australia. Great Britain, New Zealand and Germany not participating as well.

But then again who cares about who plays or not and who cares about planning ahead.

After all the 2020 Malaysian calendar is still somewhere, hiding to make a grand yet messy entry.

Malaysian Sports

Sultana Bran Hockey One League Men’s Grand Final Preview

NSW Pride and Brisbane Blaze have been head and shoulders above the rest this season and will fittingly square off in a mouth-watering showdown that will feature 12 current members of the world number one ranked Kookaburras and a host of outstanding local talent.

Tickets are available through Ticketek and both matches will be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

The Pride head into the big dance attempting to cap off a remarkable season. Unbeaten in their seven matches having amassed 38 goals and conceding only seven in their road to the Grand Final, Brent Livermore’s team has shown no signs of letting up and head into the clash with an unchanged line up, brimming with confidence and knowledge that they defeated the Blaze 5-0 in Brisbane only a fortnight ago.

There was some uncertainty how the Pride would cope when star Kookaburras forward Blake Govers was ruled out for the season after suffering an injury in Round 6, but their potency up front continues to fire.

Tom Craig, Kurt Lovett, Ky Willott and Tim Brand have all been regulars on the score sheet and will be a handful for the Blaze to contain, while defensively the Pride have been well structured and tough to break down.

While their heavy defeat to the Pride is sure to still be in the back of their minds, Brisbane Blaze know that their best is certainly enough to cause the Pride problems.

The Blaze enter the Grand Final after an impressive 7-1 trouncing of an in form Tassie Tigers in the semi finals, their only blemish for the season coming in the loss to the Pride.

Similarly to their grand final opponents, the Blaze have just as many attacking threats and an ability to score heavily and quickly. Jake Whetton, Jacob Anderson have both been lethal in front of goal, while drag flick specialist Joel Rintala and the Wotherspoon brothers, Blake and Dylan, only need half an opening to strike.

It augurs for an intense high quality showdown between two exceptional sides and bitter State of Origin rivals on the field, while the battle in the coaches box will be just as fascinating, with former Kookaburra greats Livermore and Blaze Coach Matthew Wells coming up against each other.

Sultana Bran Hockey One League 2019 Men’s Grand Final

NSW Pride v Brisbane Blaze

Saturday 16 November 2019
State Netball and Hockey Centre, Melbourne
Match Start: 2:00pm AEDT
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports Chanel 503 and Kayo
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #NSWvBBZ #HockeyOne #H1Finals

NSW Pride Men’s team: 1.Lachlan Sharp, 2.Tom Craig, 5.Ash Thomas (GK), 6.Matthew Dawson, 8.Nathanael Stewart, 12.Kurt Lovett, 18.Tristan White, 19.Jack Hayes, 20.Ky Willott, 22.Flynn Ogilvie, 23.Ryan Proctor, 24.Dylan Martin, 28.Sam Gray, 29.Timothy Brand

Brisbane Blaze Men’s team: 2.Shane Kenny, 3.Corey Weyer, 5.Scott Boyde, 7.Joel Rintala, 9.Jacob Anderson, 10.Robert Bell, 12.Jake Whetton, 15.Justin Douglas, 16.Tim Howard, 19.Blake Wotherspoon, 23.Daniel Beale, 26.Dylan Wotherspoon, 27.Jared Taylor, 32.Mitchell Nicholson (GK)

In: 27.Jared Taylor

Out: 4.Hugh Pembroke

How they got there…

NSW Pride Men’s Team (Finished 1st)

Rd 1 v Adelaide Fire (H) W 2-1 (Hazell 42’, Govers 45’)
Rd 2 v Canberra Chill (A) W 7-0 (Craig 30’, Govers 42’/58’, Lovett 51’/51’, Brand 56’/56’)
Rd 3 v Tassie Tigers (H) W 4-2 (Govers 5’/25’/29’/33’)
Rd 4 BYE
Rd 5 v HC Melbourne (H) W 6-1 (Lovett 10’/10’/27’, Govers 37’/37’, Ogilvie 52’)
Rd 6 v Perth Thundersticks (A) W 8-1 (Govers 5’/5’/25’, Willott 30’, Brand 36’/43’/43’, Dawson 45’)
Rd 7 v Brisbane Blaze (A) W 5-0 (Sharp 2’, Willott 45’/45’, Craig 60’/60+’)
Semi v HC Melbourne (H) W 6-2 (Stewart 3’, Lovett 38’/44’, Brand 41’/41’, Willott 43’)

Brisbane Blaze Men’s Team (Finished 2nd)

Rd 1 v Canberra Chill (A) W 4-1 (Rintala 20’, Douglas 41’/41’, Anderson 52’)
Rd 2 v HC Melbourne (A) W 4-2 (Whetton 14’/14’, Boyde 47’, Taylor 49’)
Rd 3 v Adelaide Fire (A) W 5-1 (Weyer 5’, Rintala 10’/30+’/45’/58’)
Rd 4 v Tassie Tigers (H) W 7-0 (Beale 1’, Rintala 17’, Weyer 25’, D.Wotherspoon 36’/36’/38’/38’)
Rd 5 v Perth Thundersticks (H) W 5-1 (Weyer 15’, Rintala 26’, D. Wotherspoon 29’/29’, Beale 54)
Rd 6 BYE
Rd 7 v NSW Pride (H) L 0-5
Semi v Tassie Tigers (H) W 7-1 (Whetton 4’/4’, Anderson 6’, Rintala 25’, B.Wotherspoon 43’, D.Wotherspoon 55’/55’)

Sultana Bran Hockey One League Media release

Sultana Bran Hockey One League Women’s Grand Final Preview

A solitary goal from HC Melbourne striker Laura Desmet decided the result in the teams’ previous encounter back in Round 2, and with both teams boasting the best attacks and stingiest defences in the competition, one mistake or moment of brilliance could again be the difference.

Tickets are available through Ticketek and both matches will be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

HC Melbourne needed a nail biting shootout win against Canberra Chill to progress to the decider. It was the second week running HC Melbourne have endured a shootout after being on the wrong side of the ledger against Adelaide Fire a week earlier in what was their only loss of the season.

This experience in the crunch could hold them in good stead if it becomes cutthroat again tomorrow, however they will be determined to utilise the home ground advantage and win it in regulation time.

Hockeyroos goalkeeper Rachael Lynch was in stellar form for HC Melbourne in the victory over the Chill, and together with talented youngster Amy Lawton and fellow Hockeyroo Sophie Taylor, the Victorians have a great balance of experience and youth.

Including her winning goal in the penalty shootout against Canberra Chill, Madi Ratcliffe has scored in all bar two of HC Melbourne’s matches this season and if she can hit the scoreboard again tomorrow it will likely go a long way to putting Hockey Club Melbourne on the trophy.

But to claim the title the home side faces a momentous challenge in the form of a Brisbane Blaze outfit that has improved the longer the season has gone.

Despite an early splutter which saw them lose their opening two matches, the Queenslanders have won five in a row, scoring 17 goals and recording four clean sheets in the process.

Led by veteran and current Hockeyroos captain Jodie Kenny, it has been 246 minutes since the Blaze have conceded a goal. This defensive resilience has allowed the Blaze’s attacking brigade to go to work at the other end and they have proven to be deadly at penalty corners.

Ash Fey and Britt Wilkinson have combined for nine goals for the Blaze this season, and with the three Fitzpatrick sisters set to line up alongside each other for a second straight week, the Blaze will be hoping it all comes together when the first push back happens just after 4pm AEDT.

Women’s Grand Final

HC Melbourne v Brisbane Blaze

Saturday 16 November 2019
State Netball and Hockey Centre, Melbourne
Match Start: 4:00pm AEDT
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports Channel 503 and Kayo
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #HCMvBBZ #HockeyOne #H1Finals

HC Melbourne Women’s team: 1.Sophie Taylor, 2.Aisling Utri, 3.Nicola Hammond, 5.Kristina Bates, 7.Kary Chau, 12.Carly James, 14.Laura Barden, 20.Hayley Padget, 21.Florine van Grimbergen, 22.Madi Ratcliffe, 23.Samantha Snow (c), 25.Hannah Gravenall, 27.Rachael Lynch (GK), 33.Amy Lawton

Brisbane Blaze Women’s team: 1.Savannah Fitzpatrick, 2.Madison Fitzpatrick, 3.Layla Eleison, 4.Ashlea Fey, 5.Rosie Malone, 6.Morgan Gallagher, 7.Jodie Kenny (c), 8.Jordyn Holzberger, 9.Jesse Reid, 12.Kendra Fitzpatrick, 14.Meg Pearce, 15.Hannah Astbury (GK), 19.Morgan Mathison, 22.Britt Wilkinson

In: 9.Jesse Reid

Out: 13.Rebecca Greiner

How they got there…

HC Melbourne (Finished 1st)

Rd 1 v Perth Thundersticks (A) W 3-1 (Messent 5’, Ratcliffe 60’/60’)
Rd 2 v Brisbane Blaze (H) W 1-0 (Desmet 23’)
Rd 3 BYE
Rd 4 v Canberra Chill (H) W 2-0 (Ratcliffe 30’, Gravenall 35’)
Rd 5 v NSW Pride (A) W 7-2 (Lawton 7’, Utri 28’/28’, Messent 30’/49’, Hammond 42’, Ratcliffe 56’)
Rd 6 v Tassie Tigers (A) W 5-2 (Gravenall 7’/7’, Desmet 33’, Ratcliffe 55’/60’)
Rd 7 v Adelaide Fire (H) L 1-1 (3-4 on penalties) (Bates 60’)
Semi v Canberra Chill (H) W 0-0 (1-0 on penalties)

Brisbane Blaze (Finished 2nd)

Rd 1 v Canberra Chill (A) L 2 (2)-2 (3) (Malone 43’/43’)
Rd 2 v HC Melbourne (A) L 0-1
Rd 3 v Adelaide Fire (A) W 4-2 (Harris 5’, Fey 21’, Wilkinson 44’, Eleison 50’)
Rd 4 v Tassie Tigers (H) W 5-0 (Harris 8’, Wilkinson 15’/15’/42’, Fey 38’)
Rd 5 v Perth Thundersticks (H) W 3-0 (Fey 15’/35’, Harris 43’)
Rd 6 BYE
Rd 7 v NSW Pride (H) W 2-0 (Kenny 26’, M.Fitzpatrick 41’)
Semi v Adelaide Fire (H) W 3-0 (K.Fitzpatrick 32’, Wilkinson 34’, M.Fitzpatrick 48’)

Sultana Bran Hockey One League Media release

No ill-feeling for Pearce ahead of the decider

The Brisbane Blaze will be hoping some insider knowledge could give them an edge over HC Melbourne in the inaugural Sultana Bran Hockey One Women’s Grand Final on Saturday.

When it comes to knowing your opponent, the Queenslanders have an ace in the form of Meg Pearce.

Before joining the Blaze this year, the 25-year-old played for Victoria in the Australian Hockey League for the previous seven seasons, winning a national title for her home state in 2017.

Pearce relocated to Brisbane with her rugby-playing fiancé last year and helped University of Queensland Hockey Club win its maiden Brisbane Division 1 premiership.

While she’s focused on helping Brisbane Blaze win the Sultana Bran Hockey One grand final, Pearce insists there’s no ill feeling between her and ex-teammates in the HC Melbourne squad.

“I didn’t play for Queensland last year, as I was a scholarship holder at the Victorian Institute of Sport,” Pearce says.

“(Training for Victoria) last year was challenging from a logistical perspective due to all of the plane trips, balancing work and uni.

“As a result, the Vic players and team were very understandable of me playing for Brisbane Blaze this year.”

A former Australian Under 21 representative, Pearce has “thoroughly enjoyed” playing for Brisbane Blaze in the Sultana Bran Hockey One competition.

“Playing with them has definitely helped me to develop deeper friendships within the team and broaden my network,” Pearce says.

HC Melbourne narrowly defeated Brisbane Blaze in the last meeting of the teams in Round 2, prevailing 1-0.

“Playing against them, initially I was very nervous until the game started. However, when I started playing it felt the same as every other game and I just concentrated on having fun and my performance on the field,” Pearce says.

Pearce is predicting another “very intense and very good game” in Brisbane Blaze’s return visit to Melbourne this weekend for the grand final.

“I think both teams’ strengths is the unity and cohesion within the team. I believe the winner will be able to utilise this for the full 60 minutes of the game,” Pearce says.

Sultana Bran Hockey One League Media release

All action weekend in Scottish Premiership and Scottish Cup

This weekend is a big one for two clubs named Western – in the men`s Premiership Western Wildcats are on Tayside to take on Grove Menzieshill with the intention of consolidating their second spot in the table, while leaders Clydesdale Western travel to second-placed Watsonians in the women`s league.

As the half-way stage of the competition approaches, Western Wildcats have clawed their way to second, one point ahead of the Dundonians.

Last weekend both sides were involved in a goal avalanche, but with somewhat different outcomes. After a few weeks of dearth, the Wildcats` goal machine suddenly sprung into action and they put nine past Uddingston, much to the glee of coach Vishal Marwaha.

In contrast Grove Menzieshill was on the wrong end of seven at the hands of Grange. While that may boost Western Wildcats, it should be noted that the Taysiders are unbeaten on their own patch, so Marwaha`s pack will have to work for the victory.

Having seen off the threat of Edinburgh University, Western Wildcats and Grove Menzieshill in the last three weeks with only the loss of two points, leaders Grange now take on second bottom Hillhead at Old Anniesland. The manner in which the champions defeated Grove Menzieshill last Saturday will certainly give the Hillhead defence much food for thought.

Edinburgh University dropped out of the top four when last weekend`s game was frozen out, but on Saturday they travel to Glasgow Green to face Kelburne. A quick consultation at the league table might make the students confident, but any side that has Johnny Christie and Jack McKenzie in their ranks will be dangerous.

After three consecutive wins Clydesdale has emerged from the mid-table pack to assume fourth place, albeit by only a single goal from Edinburgh University. On Saturday they travel to Bothwell Castle Policies to face an Uddingston side that can rise to the occasion on their own patch. The sides clashed in the Scottish Cup earlier in the season, the game finished in a 3-3 draw with the Titwood-based outfit progressing on a subsequent shoot-out.

In the final match on the men’s card Watsonians might hope to emerge out of the relegation zone with a home win over a Dundee Wanderers side yet to taste victory. Last season Wanderers powered their way through National League 2 without dropping a point, but have found the pace challenging to date in the top flight.

Six victories and only two defeats has pushed Watsonians into second spot, albeit on goal difference from Dundee Wanderers, and strong performances under coach Keith Smith has undoubtedly increased the competition at the top of the women`s division. And they are scoring goals through the likes of Sarah Jamieson, Nikki Stobie along with several others along the way. But their rise to the top four has also had its setbacks, the recent 3-0 reversal by Western Wildcats being a case in point.

However, this is an opportunity for Keith Smith`s side to show that they can mount a threat for honours this season.

Derek Forsyth`s charges have also been piling in the goals with Jenny Eadie, Lexi Sabatelli, Heather Lang and Naomi Harkness being the main strikers. If there is a Clydesdale Western victory in Edinburgh over the weekend it would undoubtedly consolidate their hold on pole position.

After two crushing 6-0 defeats Dundee Wanderers returned to winning form against Grove Menzieshill last weekend, the Taysiders should be little troubled by the visit of second bottom Glasgow University.

Western Wildcats have purred their way back into the top four, only a victory at Grove Menzieshill will maintain that status. The Taysiders have experienced five defeats in eight games and will hope for a bounce back while Western Wildcats, with Ava Smith and Megan Cox their chief predators up front, will be hunting goals here.

Frost prevented Edinburgh University from performing last weekend, and consequently they dropped down to fifth spot, but will aim to pick up the three points from their visit to GHK, especially with Amy Brodie in such fine scoring form. The young and hardworking GHK defence might have other ideas however.

Hillhead is at present third from bottom, but could climb as high as sixth if they can clock up an away win at bottom side Merlins Gordonians.

Sunday sees the second round of the Scottish Cup with several interesting encounters between Premiership sides.

Saturday`s men’s league encounter between Kelburne and Edinburgh University is on the menu again the cup the following day.

Perhaps the top tie of the round is at Titwood where a revitalised Clydesdale take on league leaders Grange. If the previous league meeting between the sides is to be an indicator, the holders will hope to progress. In October the champions came to the south side of Glasgow and left with a 3-0 victory, a Josh McRae double and a Dan Coultas penalty corner did the damage that day. But the cup is a one-off affair and there is always room for an upset.

Second-placed Western Wildcats travel to Watsonians hoping to progress, although the Cats only won the league encounter with an Andrew McConnell penalty corner early in the contest.

In the other ties Hillhead, Grove Menzieshill and Dundee Wanderers come up against teams from lower divisions – Glasgow University, Granite City Wanderers, and University of St Andrews respectively.

The tie of the round in the women`s cup is in Edinburgh where second-placed Watsonians are at home to a Dundee Wanderers` side who are only below them on goal difference. The two sides played in the league back in September at the same venue, that day the Taysiders triumphed by a single strike from Vikki Bunce, although the contest was a close affair.

Elsewhere there might be confidence within Grove Menzieshill, Western Wildcats and Edinburgh University to progress. However, current bottom Premiership side Gordonians might not relish the long journey to Fjordhus Reivers from the second division – perhaps a tricky venture.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Maryland field hockey’s defense will face its stiffest test yet in Saint Joseph’s attack

David Suggs

Midfielder Brooke DeBerdine gives a thumbs up during Maryland field hockey’s 5-1 win over Michigan State on Oct. 25, 2019. (Gabby Baniqued/The Diamondback)

Maryland field hockey’s defense has spent much of the season cutting its teeth against some of the country’s top attacking units.

There was the double-overtime victory against then-No. 5 Northwestern on Oct. 3, where the Terps held the Wildcats’ high-scoring offense to a paltry five shots in five periods. Three days later, Maryland shut out then-No. 3 UConn — the third highest-scoring offense in the country — en route to a 2-0 win. And on Oct. 11, Maryland blanked future Big Ten champions Iowa.

But on Friday, Maryland’s backline will face its biggest test of the season — a matchup against St. Joseph’s and its high-octane attack that leads the country with an average of nearly four goals per game.

With a spot in the NCAA quarterfinals on the line, though, the Terps are confident their defense can stand tall one more time to squeeze an expansive Hawks forward line.

“Our defense has definitely been solid this year … with Bo[dil Keus] in the back, [Hannah] Bond, and Nathalie [Fiechter],” midfielder Brooke DeBerdine said. “We have a very strong defense, and that gives us a lot of confidence.”

Coach Missy Meharg’s defense has quietly established itself as one of the best in the nation, conceding just 17 goals on the season — the second-best defensive record in the country.

And much of Maryland’s defensive stability is rooted in its ability to maintain focus, even as the team sends droves of attacking players toward the cage on the opposite side of the pitch.

“When our forwards have the ball, we aren’t really a part of the play,” goalkeeper Noelle Frost said earlier in the season. “So we stay [involved] by communicating with our midfielders and forwards and mentally staying in the game.”

The impact of those discussions isn’t lost on Maryland’s forward players, though, as forwards and midfielders constantly fly around the pitch, hoping to badger the opposition into turnovers and relieve pressure from the back four.

“We don’t want [the ball] to get to the defense so we’ll try to stop it in the midfield,” DeBerdine said.

Forward Madison Maguire noted that limiting St. Joseph’s goal-scoring opportunities will take a teamwide commitment. The Hawks carry a well-rounded attack — with nine players scoring at least five goals on the season — led by forward Tonya Botherway, who notched 16 goals in 20 games.

And the Hawks gave No. 1 seed North Carolina perhaps its toughest challenge of the season on Nov. 3, coming back from a two-score deficit to send the game into an extra period before falling to the Tar Heels in double overtime.

For all St. Joseph’s offensive capabilities, though, Meharg’s squad believes in its ability to shut down the Hawks, a belief bolstered by a commitment to defense that starts on the backline and reverberates throughout the roster.

“I think they’re going to be a great team to play against,” Maguire said. “I’m excited to see our really good defense go up against their really good attack.”

The Diamondback

Maryland field hockey NCAA Tournament preview: Saint Joseph’s

The Terps’ 25th consecutive tournament appearance begins with a matchup against a talented Atlantic 10 team.

By Austin Kalt

Photo by Jeff Reinking/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

After an exit in the Big Ten tournament semifinals against Penn State,Maryland field hockey looks ahead to the first round of the NCAA Tournament, it will play Saint Joseph’s.

This is Maryland’s 25th straight season competing in the tourney. But after losing in the national championship game each of the last two years, the Terps have higher goals in mind.

“Our goal in the end is obviously a national championship,” senior midfielder Madison Maguire said. “We knew that we were going to make the tournament based off our RPI, so just getting ready, switching gears. Obviously being sad and learning from your mistakes, but also just looking forward and seeing how to fix them, so we can go into the tournament very successful.”

The Terps will start the NCAA Tournament in Charlottesville, Virginia, after not being named one of the top four seeds. This is the first time since 2017 that Maryland will not be a host team.

For its first test, Maryland gets to face the Hawks, a team it hasn’t faced since the season opener in 2017.

“It’s fun going into a team that we’ve never had the opportunity to play before,” junior midfielder Brooke DeBerdine said. “And just playing our brand of hockey. Not looking too much into them, but really playing for ourselves, and playing to have fun and playing the Maryland style that we know how to play.”

No. 14 Saint Joseph’s — Friday, 2:30 p.m.

The Hawks are 17-3 this season and won the Atlantic 10 conference tournament to secure their bid to the NCAA Tournament. Saint Joseph’s has dominated its conference for the past two years, going 16-0 in conference play and winning back-to-back A-10 tournament titles.

In addition to dominating in conference games, the Hawks have also had success against some of the best teams in the NCAA. Some of Saint Joseph’s most impressive wins have come against current No. 10 Delaware, No. 18 Rutgers and No. 7 Boston College.

The Hawks have also lost a few close games against some of the premier teams in the country, including a double-overtime loss to No. 1 North Carolina and a 4-3 loss to No. 11 Michigan.

This season, the most impressive aspect of the Hawks has been their explosive offense. St. Joseph’s has the highest-scoring offense in the NCAA, averaging four goals per contest. The Hawks have a nation-high 80 goals this season and they’ve outscored opponents, 80-30.

Players to know

Tonya Botherway, sophomore forward, No. 13 — Botherway had an incredible freshman season, totaling 23 goals and 10 assists. This year, Botherway hasn’t had the same kind of numbers, but she still has been the Hawks’ best offensive player. In her sophomore year, the forward has recorded a team-high 34 points with 16 goals and two assists.

Kathrin Bentz, senior defender, No. 17 — This season, Bentz won the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, but she’s also been a key part of St. Joseph’s offense. In her first three seasons, Bentz only had one year where she recorded double-digit points. However, in 2019, she has been heavily involved on the offensive end. The senior has totaled 29 points on seven goals and 15 assists.

Victoria Kammerinke, senior goalkeeper, No. 64 — In her four seasons at St. Joseph’s, Kammerinke posted a 63-15 record and made 329 saves. This year, Kammerinke has a .709 save percentage while allowing 1.52 goals per game. The senior has also recorded four shutouts in 2019.

Three things to know

1. It will be a battle of a top offense vs. a top defense. While the Hawks have had a prolific scoring attack all season long, they will have to face one of the best defenses in the NCAA. Maryland has allowed just 17 goals all year, which is about 0.89 goals allowed per game. The 17 goals allowed are the second fewest in the NCAA behind UConn.

2. Will the Maryland offense come alive? Although it’s a small sample size, the Terps have scored just one goal in their last two games. For the season, Maryland has averaged 3.11 goals per game, but recently has struggled to get the ball in the back of the cage. Despite being shutout in its last game against Penn State, Maryland still managed 15 shots, including nine on goal.

3. Will Maryland continue to be successful in the first round? The Terps haven’t lost a game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament since 2015, where they fell 3-1 to Princeton. Last season, the Terps went down early to Albany in the first round, but scored two unanswered goals to survive and advance.

Testudo Times

Northwestern prepares to face Boston College in the first round of the NCAA tournament

Gabriela Carroll

Saar de Breij surveys the field. The senior midfielder has scored nine goals this season. Photo by Alison Albelda

Northwestern accomplished a big feat — it made the NCAA tournament. Now, it’s time for the Wildcats to try to win it.

NU will face Boston College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday — and the Eagles are a familiar opponent for the Cats. NU defeated them 3-2 on Sept. 8, but Boston College has a lot of momentum after making a run to the finals of the ACC Tournament on Sunday.

NU (14-7, 5-3 Big Ten) is in No. 4 seeded Louisville’s region, and with a win will face either the Cardinals or Michigan. The Cats are very familiar with the Wolverines, a conference opponent, but have not faced Louisville since 2017.

“We’ve played all three of these teams (in our bracket) in our four years here, so they’re not unfamiliar, which I think is good for us, so we know what we’re getting with the teams,” senior midfielder Lily Katzman said. “It’s just going to be about coming out and doing the game plan and knowing our stuff.”

When NU faced the Eagles (13-7, 4-2 ACC) early in the season, they were outshot 17 to 9. The shot deficit allowed Boston College to take a 2-1 lead that they held up until late in the fourth quarter.

One of Boston College’s weaknesses are its penalty corners — they’ve allowed 94, and only taken 92 themselves. The Cats forced 119 corners this season and average 5.67 per game. If NU can take advantage of those opportunities like they did in their previous game against the Eagles, when freshman midfielder Peyton Halsey scored one off a penalty corner shot, that gives the team a critical edge over Boston College.

Boston College has won nine of its last eleven games, with those two losses both coming against defending NCAA champions No. 1 North Carolina, the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament. But some of the Eagles’ wins came against NCAA Tournament teams Duke, Virginia and Syracuse. The Eagles are hitting their stride at exactly the right time.

For the junior and senior Cats, this is their second time in the NCAA tournament, after an Elite Eight finish in 2017. Boston College has not made the tournament since 2016, so NU’s strong senior leadership and experience could give them an edge.

“Especially as seniors, it’s extra important. There are more emotions,” senior midfielder Saar de Breij added. “We don’t want the season to end, because it’s our last one.”

The Cats will need to play their best hockey to advance in the tournament. Coach Tracey Fuchs said that since the field is so small, it comes with great competition, and NU will need to rise to the challenge or risk being eliminated.

“We’ll just make sure everyone is calm but very excited,” de Breij said. “When we’re excited and poised, we play the best hockey.”

The Daily Northwestern

Walking Hockey keeps picking up speed at Portsmouth HC

Portsmouth Walking Hockey

When they put on a Walking Hockey session as part of their 2018 #HockeyFest, little did Portsmouth HC know they would now boast a group of more than 80 members.

Cllr Lee Mason, former Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, had set the club the task of making small changes and big differences to get the city active.

But even he would not have guessed just how much of a difference the club would make in such a short space of time, with 20 of their Walking Hockey group having never picked up a stick previously.

As part of his proposed plan to get Portsmouth active, Cllr Mason had a collective aim of walking one million miles, losing one million pounds of weight and volunteers dedicating one million hours of time to their community.

Having seen the benefits of Walking Hockey, he said: “Everyone has a part to play in Walking Hockey; everyone is involved as a team.

“It attracts people who wouldn’t be involved in sport otherwise and it’s great to see generations of families who are able to play with each other. You would not have that mix of age, ability or experiences in other spheres.”

This latter point is something that Alf Wimshurst – head coach at Portsmouth HC and the Walking Hockey organiser – is very proud of.

“It’s been great for families, we’ve found parents of kids who are at the club already have picked up a stick and know how their kid feels,” he explained.

“The sessions are purely aimed at being informal and enjoyable. Each week all you can hear is the laughter come from all the pitches.

“We have gained new members, both those who are only interested in Walking Hockey and those who have also decided they want to take part in other sessions we offer.

“It’s fantastic to watch the family enthusiasm grow. It creates a great atmosphere at the sessions.”

One of the families that attend the sessions are the Barnes’, with Paul and Andrea – a self-confessed ‘Hockey Mum’ who only played the sport for the first time three years ago - joined by their two hockey-mad sons Owen and Tristan.

Speaking about attending the sessions with his family, Tristan said: “We play against each other but it’s never too serious.  Other hockey can be serious, and you are going along to win the games, however here it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s still good.”

Paul also added: “It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, or a previous player coming back to the sport, it gives you a great opportunity to get involved in the sport you love no matter what your age. Also, it’s great to spend time and play sport with the family.”

Sometimes individuals need a little nudge to convince them to return to the sport.

Peter Russell was one of those, having hung up his stick. However he did keep in contact with some of his old team-mates and it was they who persuaded him to take up Walking Hockey, a decision he is very glad he made.

He said: “It’s a good game to play and there are lots of people of different ages with different skills. It just nice that everyone gets on, there are simple rules and it’s so relaxed which is the attraction for me. It’s only an hour long so I can manage, but is a great form of exercise as I walked two miles tonight”

England Hockey Board Media release

Fight for men's deputy president's post takes spotlight

By Jugjet Singh

Kedah HA president Asmirul Anuar Aris

THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) have received letters from 11 affiliates backing an Annual General Meeting preceding the elections tomorrow.

This is seen as a bid to pre-empt the move by the Kedah HA council, who had sent a letter to the Sports Commissioner’s Office seeking for the elections to be postponed while the issue of two nominations being sent by the state is sorted out.

Kedah HA president Asmirul Anuar Aris had come out to state that the nomination form with his signature on it and sent on Oct 24 is the valid one.

MHC have 16 affiliates — the 14 states as well as Police and Armed Forces. A total of 32 votes will be cast to decide the next men’s deputy president and seven vice-presidents (two of whom must be women).

President Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal and women’s deputy president Datuk S. Shamala have already been returned unopposed.

Based on nominations, it looks like the two women vice-presidents likely to be elected are Sarawak HA president Mary Sadiah Zainuddin and Malacca HA vice-president Rogayah Mohamed, who each received 14 and 13 nominations respectively.

Their challengers — Datuk Seri Lim Kim Lian and Juriah Abdul Wahab — received one nomination each.

Eleven men will battle for the five vice-president’s posts, with Sabah HA president Datuk Seri Anil Jeet Singh leading the way with 14 nominations.

The most interesting fight, though, will be between MHC legal chairman Jadadish Chandra and Kuala Lumpur HA (KLHA) president Datuk Seri Megat D. Shahriman for the men’s deputy president’s post.

Megat is a newcomer to hockey, having only won the KLHA elections in June.

He was the Negri Sembilan Canoe president before being elected to the top post in the Malaysia Canoe Association (Masca) in 2018.

Megat was also involved in a tussle with former Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin for the post of Malaysian Paralympic Council (MPC) in June. The elections, however, were shelved after delegates agreed to postpone it during their AGM and sort out nomination issues.

Despite his short stint in sports, Megat will now try to become second-in-charge in MHC.

Should he beat Jadadish, Megat will have to relinquish his post as KLHA president because their constitution does not allow an elected member to also hold a position in the parent body.

Lawyer Jadadish sits in the law committee of MHC and is also a council member-cum-lawyer of the BA of Malaysia.

Jadadish, who is also the Selangor BA secretary, is well known for defending former national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei and national No 1 hockey goalkeeper S. Kumar when they duo faced doping charges.

A third candidate for the deputy president’s post, Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim, had 14 nominations but bowed out due to negative developments leading to the elections.

As things stand, it’s anybody’s guess who the delegates will vote for in the fight to be second in command.

New Straits Times

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