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News for 24 March 2021

All the news for Wednesday 24 March 2021

SPAR South Africa Women named for African Indoor Cup 2021

The South African Hockey Association has announced the team that will represent the country at the African Indoor Cup, African Hockey’s Indoor World Cup Qualifier, in Durban in April. The team features three uncapped players in the 12, along with the two most capped indoor hockey players in Africa.

Cindy Hack and fellow centurion Jess O’Connor will be paramount to the South Africans goals of winning back the tournament from Namibia and securing the spot at the Indoor World Cup in Belgium next year. The two centurions are also joined by experienced playmaker Kelly Reed and Celia Seerane (Evans) in a team brimming with talent.

Tegan Fourie, Jamie Southgate, Edith Molikoe, Robyn Johnson and Zimi Shange are all closing in on their own milestones of 50 Test caps and the fact that they have graced the international courts with some of the world’s best players like Janne Muller-Wieland, Alex Heerbert and Marlena Rybacha will hold them in good stead for sure.

It’s been almost 16 months since the team last played, but that was on the back of a wonderful run of form including series victories against Switzerland, Ireland and Poland. They will undoubtedly look to bring that form back as soon as they are on the court together again in Durban.

Charlise Swanepoel from Mpumalanga will have her first opportunity to wear the national smock in goals, while Cheneal Raubenheimer will also win her first cap for SPAR South Africa. Exciting young Daniella de Oliveira is the third of the new caps in coach Lennie Botha’s squad.

“I am incredibly proud of the effort the team have put in throughout the difficult COVID Pandemic. We have had to make some difficult decisions, but our selection team have put together a squad of players that I believe will provide us with the best chances to win the African Indoor Cup.” Shared Lennie Botha. “We also want to thank SPAR for trusting in our process and supporting our team the way they have!”

The tournament will see South Africa, Namibia and Botswana compete to earn the right to represent Africa at the 2021 Indoor Hockey World Cup in Belgium.

SPAR South Africa Squad – African Indoor Cup 2021

Charlize Swanepoel, Mpumalanga
Cheneal Raubenheimer, Eastern Province
Cindy Hack, SPAR KZN Raiders
Celia Seerane, Northern Blues
Daniela de Oliviera, SPAR KZN Raiders
Edith Molikoe, Northern Blues
Jamie Southgate, Western Province
Jessica O’Connor, SPAR KZN Raiders
Kelly Reed, SPAR KZN Raiders
Robyn Johnson, Southern Gauteng
Tegan Fourie, SPAR KZN Raiders
Zimi Shange, SPAR KZN Raiders

SA Hockey Association media release

Ashley Jackson Stepping Away From International Hockey

Ashley Jackson has taken the decision to step away from the GB senior programme in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

After taking some time to speak and reflect with those close to him, after a number of recent injuries, he has made the choice to move on from the programme and focus on his wellbeing and exciting interests away from international hockey."

Having made his international debut in 2006, Ashley has gone on to become widely recognised as one of hockey’s best ever players. He has made 250 appearances for England and Great Britain and won seven medals, including gold with England at the 2009 EuroHockey Championships.

He was also named the 2009 FIH Young Player Of The Year, becoming the first British athlete to receive the accolade, and was selected in the FIH World All Stars XI in 2009 and 2010. In addition, Ashley is one of just 24 players to have represented Great Britain at three Olympic Games.

With a staggering total of 137 goals, he is the record goalscorer for England and Great Britain. He also boasts the second-highest tally of goals for Great Britain at the Olympics, his 11 strikes matching that of Alex Danson-Bennett and only bettered by Sean Kerly (16).

In 2014, he scored an astonishing 31 international goals, the highest amount for any England and Great Britain international in a calendar year in recent memory. He also accrued 23 goals in 2009 and 20 goals the following year; no other player has passed 18 since Jackson made his international debut.

However, with the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, a string of injuries and for personal reasons, he felt it was the right time to step away for the time being.

Ashley said: “As always it’s been a pleasure to play for my country. Things haven’t worked out quite how I wanted for this summer, however I hope I haven’t put the shirt on for the last time.

"I’d like to thank Danny Kerry, Ed Barney, Adam Dixon and the boys for the memories since my return to the programme and I wish them all the best for the summer from the bottom of my heart.”

Great Britain Hockey’s Performance Director Ed Barney said: “We’re sorry to see Ash step away from the programme. Ash has contributed a huge amount since his debut in 2007 – he has been a hugely respected member of the squad and a real asset to the England and Great Britain men’s programme both on and off the pitch throughout the Tokyo cycle.  

“With such experience behind him, Ash has brought a massive amount of perspective, wisdom and grounding to the squad. We know this hasn’t been an easy decision but one that Ash has considered and worked through at length.

“We wish Ash all the very best in the coming months and hope that England and Great Britain Hockey can have a close working relationship with him and his passion and excitement for the game over the coming years.”

Danny Kerry – head coach of the Great Britain men’s squad – added: “Following the challenging months within the programme, I understand and respect Ash’s decision to step away. Ash has shown a depth of character and resolve to stand fast and push through a series of rehabilitation and physical conditioning phases.

“During all this time, Ash has contributed in a rich and mature way to the development of his fellow players within the squad. Their hands will be “looser on their sticks” as a result of his time, energy and his experience and for that I know all those who have worked with him during this cycle will be thankful.

“On a personal level I have enjoyed Ash’s company, his passion for the game and seeing the growth in him as a person. I wish Ash well in taking some time to recharge his batteries and I look forward to staying in touch to ‘talk shop’.”

Going forward, Ashley is looking forward to being able to play with Old Georgians HC when club hockey restarts and also hopes to return to the ice as well.

Great Britain Hockey would like to thank Ashley for his phenomenal contribution and efforts over the past fifteen couple of years and we wish him all the very best for the future.

Great Britain Hockey media release

Ashley Jackson leaves Great Britain Hockey ahead of Tokyo Olympics

By Rod Gilmour

In a huge blow for GB Hockey, Ashley Jackson, Britain’s record goalscorer and regarded as one of the country’s most talented players ever, quit the men’s national programme on Tuesday.

In a statement, GB Hockey said that recent injuries and personal issues had been the deciding factor in Jackson’s decision to step away just four months out from the Olympics.

Jackson had only returned to the GB programme in 2019 after becoming disillusioned with the pressures of the Bisham programme following the Rio Olympics, where GB had finished ninth.

Despite GB Hockey thanking Jackson for his ‘phenomenal’ international contribution over 15 years, the three-time Olympian admitted that he hoped to return to a GB or England shirt in the future. Jackson will be 34 in August.

He said: “As always it’s been a pleasure to play for my country. Things haven’t worked out quite how I wanted for this summer, however I hope I haven’t put the shirt on for the last time.

“I’d like to thank Danny Kerry, Ed Barney, Adam Dixon and the boys for the memories since my return to the programme and I wish them all the best for the summer from the bottom of my heart.”

Jackson will return to Old Georgians at club level when hockey can resume, while it was also noted that he may pick up an ice hockey stick again after featuring for several clubs when he first stepped away from the GB programme in 2017.

RIO – Men’s Olympic Hockey tournament 16 Brasil – Great Britain foto: Ashley Jackson scored. WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK

Jackson is GB’s current top men’s scorer at an Olympics, with 11 goals, sitting second behind Sean Kerly (16).

Head coach Danny Kerry said: “Following the challenging months within the programme, I understand and respect Ash’s decision to step away. Ash has shown a depth of character and resolve to stand fast and push through a series of rehabilitation and physical conditioning phases.

“During all this time, Ash has contributed in a rich and mature way to the development of his fellow players within the squad. Their hands will be “looser on their sticks” as a result of his time, energy and his experience and for that I know all those who have worked with him during this cycle will be thankful.”

GB Hockey’s performance director Ed Barney hoped that the programme would have a “close relationship” with Jackson “over the coming years”.

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The Hockey Paper

Ashley Jackson to 'step away' from GB hockey

Jackson was the first Englishman to be named the FIH World Young Player of the Year when he earned the award in 2009

Ashley Jackson has chosen to "step away" from the Great Britain hockey team in the build up to the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.

GB hockey said the Games being postponed by a year because of coronavirus, injuries and personal reasons were behind Jackson's decision.

The 33-year-old has scored a record 137 goals in a combined 250 games for Britain and England.

"Things haven't worked out quite how I wanted for this summer," said Jackson.

"However, I hope I haven't put the shirt on for the last time."

He added he wished the team "all the best for the summer from the bottom of my heart".

Jackson has represented Great Britain at three Olympic Games and won gold with England at the 2009 EuroHockey Championships.

He had returned to the GB senior programme in 2019 after taking a break following the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"Following the challenging months within the programme, I understand and respect Ash's decision to step away," said GB head coach Danny Kerry.

"Ash has shown a depth of character and resolve to stand fast and push through a series of rehabilitation and physical conditioning phases.

"I wish Ash well in taking some time to recharge his batteries and I look forward to staying in touch to 'talk shop'."

Jackson will continue to play for EHL Premier Division side Old Georgians and hopes to return to play for Basingstoke Bison ice hockey team.

BBC Sport

'Goals crazy' Nuramirah wants more

By K. Rajan

Nuramirah Shakirah Zulkifli (second from right) celebrating her goal against Sabah at the National Hockey Stadium on Monday.

KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) Ladies striker Nuramirah Shakirah Zulkifli has a voracious appetite for goals. And she just wants more and more.

The Kedahan has no intention of slowing down though she has topped the women's Malaysian Hockey League scorers' chart with seven goals from four matches while her team have already won the league title on Monday with a 7-0 win over Sabah.

Nuramirah, 21, who played for German club Bremer in Division One in 2019 (she was her club's top scorer with 15 goals), said: "I am hungry for more success. I want this year to be my best outing in the league.

"Things have been looking great for me in the league but I am a bit frustrated that I am not getting enough passes from my teammates to score goals.

"I want my teammates to pass more of the ball to me, so that I can net more goals."

Nuramirah, who featured in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, has set her eyes on two more missions - to be the top scorer and help UniKL clinch their second title - the Vivian May Soars trophy (overall cup) next month.

UniKL clinched the league title following four consecutive wins and they have one match in hand, against Young Tigress today.

They started their campaign by hammering Mutiara Juniors 17-0, and defeating two former champions, Blue Warriors and PKS Universiti Tenaga Nasional-KPT with identical 3-0 scoreline.


Men: UniKL 4 TNB Thunderbolts 0, THT 6 Nurinsafi 1, UiTM 0, Tenaga Nasional 0, Maybank 3 Sabah 0

New Straits Times

Scottish clubs could reach Europe through domestic Cup

Kelburne Hockey Club

Scottish teams will be able to enter European play-offs through the domestic Cup under new proposals to give first teams the chance to progress to continental competitions.

A working group, led by former Scottish Hockey president Martin Boag, was formed last year to look at restructuring the leagues and cups with clubs set to vote on the proposals.

In a bid to encourage clubs to put more emphasis on Cup matches, games would be played under Friday night lights and across weekends, which would be league free.

Lower ranked teams would have home ties in the early rounds, draws would be non-seeded while the Cup winners across men and women would enter European play-offs.

The working group is also proposing for the men’s and women’s Premiership to consist of 12 teams, split into two leagues of six after 11 games.

Any go ahead from the proposals would likely see changes enforced for the 2022/23 season.

Boag said: “I was asked to form a group to look at potential future adult competitions. I believe we have concluded with innovative suggestions which give each team within a club two league options and return some additional value to the cup competitions.”

In his chairman’s statement, he added: “I would hope that the clubs will view this proposal favourably and give it due consideration.

“I believe the process we have followed has been: Robust in that we have taken minutes and video recorded each meeting; We have a group with wide range of views from across the Scottish Hockey family; We considered several options before concluding.”

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The Hockey Paper

A Small Win For Haryana, A Giant Victory for Indian Hockey

The Sub-junior girls’ team of Haryana is on cloud nine after the convincing title win at the Hockey India Sub-junior National championships which concluded recently in Simdega, Jharkhand. The Haryana girls overcame fighting hosts Jharkhand in a shoot out duel, after the teams failed to score any in the regulation time of sixty minutes in the final, witnessed by a few thousands.

The proud Haryana girls after winning the SubiJr Nationals. Coach Kuldeep is in green jersey

As the girls rejoice in the win, their coach Kuldeep Siwach says he has achieved the ‘bigger goal.’ A player of repute himself, Kuldeep works in the Indian Railways.

“Sub-junior championship is a platform to test the talent of the young girls and see where they stand. Of course, the tournament win is important, but it is a stepping stone for a bigger goal – identifying the future players of India. I am so happy to say that I could spot at least 6-7 girls who have the potential to play for India.”

Kuldeep, who runs an academy for the girls along with his wife and former India captain Pritam Rani, has been long stressing on the ‘basics’ of hockey in the grassroot level to produce quality players for the Indian team.

Kuldeep Siwach with his Arjuna awardee wife Pritamrani, 2002

“My wife and I make a great coaching combination. We have the same ambition to see India win medals at the international level. So, at our academy, we provide the best of training to the young girls and try to churn quality players from among them who can one day represent India and make all of us proud,” he says.

The efforts of the husband-wife duo seems to be working as the winning Haryana team comprises at least 10 girls from their academy. The team had a great run in the tournament as they won all matches without conceding a single goal.

The Haryana girls won 30-0 against Rajasthan in opener, 19-0 against Uttarakhand, 23-0 against Tamil Nadu in the quarter-final and 10-0 against Uttar Pradesh in the semi-final. In the final against Jharkhand, the girls won 4-3 in the shootout after both teams failed to score a single goal in the sixty minutes of play.

For the coach-couple, it was a matter of double joy as their daughter Kanika was also part of the winning team.

“As a mother, I am very proud of her. She is 14 years old and has shown a lot of promise. I hope she continues to work hard and play well,” says Pritam Rani.


Odisha Cabinet nod to develop infrastructure of two hockey stadiums

Of the amount, Rs 90 crore will be allocated through budget spread across three financial years starting from 2020-21.

Stadium in Bhubaneswar. (Photo | EPS)

BHUBANESWAR: The State Cabinet on Monday approved the ‘State-level Sports Infrastructure Development Project’ for development of infrastructure at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar and construction of International Hockey Stadium, Rourkela.

As the State is going to host the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Men’s Hockey World Cup-2023 with venues at Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, the meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik decided to expand and upgrade infrastructure at Kalinga Stadium and construction of a new grand hockey stadium at Rourkela, the second venue for the international sporting event.

The State Government has established High Performance Centres (HPCs) in various sports disciplines at Kalinga Stadium in partnership with various corporates and elite sportspersons.

The State Level Sports Infrastructure Development Project will undertake further expansion and upgradation of Kalinga Stadium sports complex and construction of the new stadium at Rourkela at an estimated cost of Rs 356.38 crore.

Of the amount, Rs 90 crore will be allocated through budget spread across three financial years starting from 2020-21.

The balance amount is to be funded through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), District Mineral Foundation (DMF) Trust, Sundargarh and Odisha Sports Development Fund (OSDF). The project will be completed within 16 months.

Giving its stamp of approval to 10 proposals, the Cabinet gave its nod for amendment of certain provisions of Odisha Land Rights to Slum Dwellers Act, 2017 to settle land less than 30 sq mtr in favour of person in actual possession to facilitate construction of house under PMAY and other schemes under ‘Housing for All’.

In order to facilitate beneficiaries of different housing schemes of Odisha State Housing Board (OSHB) and Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) for execution of lease deeds, the government has decided to waive interest payable on delayed payment of premium to the tune of Rs 29.15 crore by the two agencies.

The proposal of ST and SC Development department for regularisation of 100 contractual tribal language teachers as a one-time measure was also approved. The teachers were appointed in 2008.

The Cabinet also approved a proposal to amend the Orissa Minerals Rules, 2007 to make provisions of penalty more stringent for illegal mining, theft of minerals and illegal storage and transportation.

The term of imprisonment for illegal mining has been enhanced from one year to two years and fine Rs 25,000 to Rs 5 lakh.

Eye on hockey

Rs 365.38 cr Cost of expansion of Kalinga Stadium and construction of new stadium at Rourkela

Rs 90 cr to be allocated through budget spread across three financial years

The new stadium at Rourkela will have seating capacity of 20,000

The project will be completed within 16 months

New Indian Express

Balochistan Chief Minister vows to promote hockey

KARACHI: Balochistan chief minister Jam Kamal Khan has vowed that his government would provide all possible support for the promotion of Pakistan's national game.

Inaugurating the Chief Minister Balochistan Hockey Gold Cup in Quetta, he said that Rs1.5 million would be awarded to the winning team, while runners up would get Rs1 million and the third placed team would get Rs500,000.

It is after 17 years that an all-Pakistan hockey tournament is being organised in Balochistan.

The tournament is being organised by the Balochistan government in collaboration with Pakistan Hockey Federation.

The chief minister said that much attention has been given to cricket. It is now time to pay attention to the promotion of the national game as Pakistan has its greatest achievements in this game.

He further said that in collaboration with PHF the provincial government would organise more domestic tournaments in Balochistan.

The chief minster hoped that his province would produce Olympians in future like Shakeel Abbasi and Zeeshan Ashraf.

A total of 12 teams, including national champions WAPDA, are participating in the event. The final of the event will be played on April 2.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that due to the third wave of Covid, the PHF would again change the preparation and training programme of Pakistan senior and junior teams.

The senior team will not participate in any international toruanment but the junior team is to participate in the Junior Asia Cup 2021 from July 1-10 in Bangladesh.

The second phase of the training camp of Pakistan junior players concluded on March 20.

The boys will take some days rest or partipcate in the Chief Minister Balochistan Gold Cup hockey toruanment.

The source said that if the third wave of Covid persisted in Punjab and other parts f the country, the Abdul Sattar Edhi hockey stadium in Karachi would be the main centre for the training of Pakistan senior and junior teams.

The News International

Field Hockey Canada Legacy: Hall of Fame Officials

As a part of Field Hockey Canada’s Team of Teams initiative, we are celebrating Umpires and Officials Week from March 22-26, 2021. We know that we wouldn’t be able to play the game we love without the tireless work of technical officials and on-field umpiring crews. This week, we take the special time to recognize the amazing achievements of Field Hockey Canada’s officiating community. Canada has a rich history of officiating at the grassroots, national and international level and we look forward to the bright future ahead in Canadian officiating.

Field Hockey Canada Legacy: Hall of Fame Officials

Field Hockey Canada has a rich history of committing our internationally certified umpires and officials to major games around the world. Today, we take the time the reflect on our amazing officiating legacy and look back at our Hall of Fame officials. Sumesh Putra was inducted in 2014 as a builder of the game and was recently shifted into the officials category. Putra had a historic career as a Canadian official spanning 20 years of international umpiring. Margaret Lanning was inducted as a part of the 2018 HOF class. Lanning was one of two umpires from the Americas to consistently be on the prestigious World Cup/Olympic umpire list. Alan Waterman was inducted last year in the class of 2019. Waterman was a world class umpire and made the shift to becoming an international Umpire Manager, preparing and supporting the next generation of world-wide officials. Learn more about our amazing Hall of Fame officials below.

Sumesh Putra

In total, Putra represented Canada in 127 international matches and officiated in two Olympic Games, three World Cups, a Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games and two Champions Trophy tournaments. Putra says his lengthy career as an international official, which lasted twenty years, can be attributed to two simple keys to success: confidence and support. As all umpires are required, he retired at the age of 47, but Putra did so on his birthday, a day after officiating his last game at the 2007 Pan American Games, stretching his career as long as he possibly could. >>> READ MORE ABOUT SUMESH.

Margaret Lanning

A world-renowned umpire and administrator, Lanning represented North America in the 1983, 1986 and 1990 FIH World Cups and the 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. She was assigned the gold medal match at the 1986 and 1990 FIH World Cups as well as the 1987 and 1995 Pan American Games. Within Canada, Lanning served as an active volunteer in the Canadian field hockey community and was an important role model and mentor for aspiring umpires. >>> READ MORE ABOUT MARGARET.

Alan Waterman

Waterman umpired at the international level for 17 years and worked 88 international matches. That includes the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the 1994 World Cup and three Champions Trophies. He also spent 20 years as an umpire manager. Waterman looks back fondly at his time on the pitch as an international official. “Well, as an umpire, of course doing the Champions Trophies, the numerous ones sitting there in stadiums in Karachi or Lahore,” said Waterman. “You’ve got 80,000 people around you and they’re on three tiers so they’re right over top of you. The fireworks are going off left right et cetera.” >>> READ MORE ABOUT ALAN.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Online courses remove borders to development in Africa

On Episode 3 of the Hockey Pod, we heard from Zimbabwe’s Sarah Bennett about some of the trials of staying abreast of everything that is happening on the international hockey scene, particularly in the realms of training and developing coaches, umpires and officials. Just to underline the point she was making, Sarah had limited connectivity during the recording of the podcast due to Zimbabwe’s recurring power shortages.

Over a long and varied hockey career, Bennett has played for the Zimbabwe national team, including at the Junior World Cup in 2005, before taking up umpiring and officiating. She most recently took up position as a FIH Hockey Pro League Match Manager and will be at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as a technical official. She is also Chair of the Development Committee for the African Hockey Federation, a position she took up towards the end of 2019.

“For everyone around the world, 2020 has been a difficult time but for me, new into the role, the past year has been a massive learning curve. Normally we would tie up FIH Educators with face-to-face courses but everything has had to move online, and connectivity over the internet can be an issue.”

When the connectivity is good however, the online courses have been a huge success. Support for the cost of hosting courses has come from the FIH Academy and the Asia Hockey Federation. Bennett says this has been invaluable for developing the skills and knowledge of a large number of umpires and officials from across the continent.

“The approach we try to take is ‘Hockey without borders’, so we deliver hockey across the entire continent. We are trying to get educators across all the different disciplines who can deliver the courses to people in those regions. The distance you are travelling to do those courses face-to-face is not an option so we are trying to get educators who can deliver online courses. Last year we delivered 64 workshops and we spoke to over 400 coaches. We would normally never get anywhere near those numbers, so that is a positive.”

Existing relationships between other countries and the African nations is something that Bennett is keen to harness.

“We have had educators from around the world providing online courses pro bono. That has been a real boost. Our main aim for 2021 is to grow the education of coaches and facilitators who can deliver the courses within Africa. If we can continue to use educators pro bono to develop facilitators in each national association, that will be a big step forward in furthering the game in Africa.”

Bennett’s own experiences as an official at various international events is vital for development of officials across the Africa continent. She is able to disseminate her own knowledge to officials at continental and national level events.

“I have been Tournament Director (TD) at events in Africa and other officials have said to me after the event that they hadn’t realised how much you develop your skills and knowledge as a TD depending upon the events and circumstances you have been involved in.

“For example, you might be hot-spotting off your phone because the power has gone. But, it is difficult to explain to someone else how you have to face all manner of situations. You have to have been there and experienced it yourself.”

One international experience that has stuck firmly in Bennett’s memory is the 2018 Indoor Hockey World Cup in Berlin. “It was amazing. The crowds, the atmosphere. Two halls running at the same time, the videos do not do it justice. But to come home and pass that knowledge on is invaluable.”

“It is exposure like this, at the top level, that allows you to keep up with the game – how you interpret the rules, for example. if you don’t have that regular international experience, either as a player or as an umpire, when you get to a top event, unless you have prepared rigorously, both mentally and physically, you will be slower out of the starting blocks. So to be exposed to the highest level on a regular basis is hugely important.”

Listen to the full podcast here.


FIH site

Field hockey downs James Madison 5-2

The Cavaliers recorded 15 shots in an impressive offensive performance

By Luke Stone

Junior back Amber Ezechiels was a part of a strong Cavalier defensive line that held the Dukes to just one shot in the opening period.  Courtesy Virginia Athletics

Virginia earned its first win of the spring season Sunday afternoon with a 5-2 home victory over in-state foe James Madison.

The Cavaliers (5-9, 0-2 ACC) set the tone early. Their offense took seven shots in the game’s opening period, while their defense held the Dukes (1-1, 1-0 CAA) to just one. Junior midfielder Peyton Tollaksen capitalized on an open goal 14 minutes into the first quarter and found the back of the net to give Virginia a 1-0 lead. Having assisted on Tollaksen’s goal, freshman midfielder Anneloes Knol recorded her fifth point of the season.

The Cavaliers struck again 10 minutes into the second quarter when junior back Amber Ezechiels scored on a penalty stroke to make the score 2-0. The Virginia defense followed up its suffocating first quarter effort with another dominant performance, holding James Madison to two shots this time.

“A tough defensive back four – Amber [Ezechiels], Cato [Geusgens], Dani [Danielle Husar], Mak [Makayla Gallen] and [goalkeeper] Lauren Hausheer held off the aggressive Dukes until the fourth quarter with stellar teamwork,” Coach Michele Madison said. “Makayla, who made the move from striker to defense this spring, continues to impress with her domination of the right side.”

In the third quarter, the Cavaliers cemented their lead. Ezechiels made her presence felt on offense yet again, assisting on two goals from penalty corners within five minutes of each other. Sophomore midfielder Adele Iacobucci extended the lead to 3-0 with her fifth goal of the season before junior midfielder Annie McDonough made it 4-0 for her second of the year.

The Dukes responded early in the fourth quarter to get back in the game. Dukes sophomore midfielder Caroline Cahill dribbled into space from a penalty corner and got off a clean shot to begin cutting into the deficit. Less than two minutes later, James Madison sophomore midfielder Emily Harrison found the net again to put the Dukes down 4-2.

Despite the momentum shift, Virginia put the game away late in the fourth quarter. Iacobucci netted her sixth goal of the season on a breakaway to put the Cavaliers up 5-2, which would stand as the final score.

“It is always good to get an in-state win,” Madison said. “We passed the ball well around the JMU pressure and were able to attack through the midfield which created significant scoring opportunities. We went on our belly for the goals today.”

The Cavaliers have just four conference games left before the ACC Automatic Qualifier Playoff occurs on April 23. They will look to record their first conference win of the spring season this Saturday when they head back on the road to play Wake Forest.

The Cavalier Daily

Duke field hockey continues to show spring improvement in double-overtime loss to No. 5 Liberty

By Jake C. Piazza

Duke looks like a different team compared to the fall. Photo by Courtesy of Duke Athletics | The Chronicle

Liberty’s mascot may be the Flames, but it was Duke that started the game on fire Sunday, shooting out to an early 2-0 lead behind goals from sophomore Hannah Miller and freshman Darcy Bourne in the first 3:23.

However, the 12th-ranked Blue Devils failed to find the back of the net for the remainder of the contest and fell to the fifth-ranked Flames 2-3 in a double-overtime thriller. The loss to Liberty came two days after Duke dropped its contest with No. 13 Wake Forest 1-4, although the ending of Sunday’s game was far more eventful.

In the second overtime period, Liberty forward Jill Bolton rifled the game-winning shot past Duke goalie Piper Hampsch just minutes after her earlier overtime goal was called off, capping off the Blue Devils’ two-loss weekend.

Despite the two defeats, Duke’s performance Sunday was certainly a positive sign.

Miller and Bourne undoubtedly attracted all the attention out of the gates, but graduate transfer Eva Nunnink served as the centerpiece of an impressive Blue Devil defensive showing throughout the afternoon.

“That kid is giving us above and beyond,” head coach Pam Bustin said of Nunnink. “I mean, she hasn’t come out for a minute and plays smart and gives us everything, and we honor that.”

Of all Nunnink’s contributions throughout the weekend, none were more important than her three-on-one stop with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter against Liberty. With Duke (3-9) clinging onto a 2-1 lead, three Flames tore down the field with only Nunnink left to prevent them from getting off a quality shot. The Netherlands native stretched her stick out just far enough to break up the Liberty pass, though, thwarting the offensive possession.

Her highlights may have come as a defender, but Nunnink managed to get off a team-high four shots Friday and added in three shots on goal Sunday, proving she can make an impact on both ends of the field.

The energy displayed by Nunnink radiated onto her fellow defenders Caroline Hanan and Grace Kim as well. Duke was forced to lean on its defense for most of the Liberty game, in large part thanks to Flame goalie Azul Iritxity Irigoyen engulfing every Blue Devil shot on goal after the opening four minutes.

“I thought our defense was unbelievable [against Liberty],” Bustin said. “I thought our corner defense was fantastic and our defensive organization for the most part really did take the wind out of [Liberty’s] sails at times. But like I told the team, you can only sustain that defensive stop for so long. You’ve got to get it out. You’ve got to relieve the backfield and you’ve got to put some numbers on the board on the other end.”

Although Duke’s defensive effort against Liberty (9-1) was a highlight, Iritxity Irigoyen was the true standout player on the field Sunday. The Argentina native racked up 12 saves, but even that impressive number fails to fully explain the magnitude of her impact.

Duke started the game off playing aggressively and continued to do so until the very end, but Iritxity Irigoyen matched the Blue Devils’ intensity. In the closing minutes of the third quarter, Miller and sophomore Josie Varney fired off shots that each looked like it would easily find the back of the net, but Iritxity Irigoyen stopped both.

“[Iritxity Irigoyen] had a great game, however I felt we did take our shots,” Bustin said. “We wanted to shoot quickly or at least try to and I think there were times we actually shot the ball right at her and we need to mature in that way too—that you’re shooting to find the space not shooting to find the goalkeeper. We’ll continue to work on that but I mean I can’t be disappointed with—I think we had 17 shots and 14 of them were on goal. That’s good. We just have to finish and maybe create some more corners.”

The final score seemed to indicate Duke’s offense went completely dormant after its second goal, but quite the contrary was true. The Blue Devils continued to pepper Iritxity Irigoyen with shots—they just couldn’t get the ball past her.

Although Bustin was overall satisfied with the way her squad performed, she did indicate that sloppy play ultimately plagued Duke in the end.

“I’m not happy with the number of cards we had [during the Liberty game]. I’m not happy with the amount of minutes that we’ve had to play man down.” Bustin said. “I think that put a lot of pressure on our defense, but also it takes a lot more from every other player.”

Sunday’s contest was Duke’s fourth overtime loss of the season. While the team’s record at the moment looks extremely lopsided, the Blue Devils are still in play for both a chance at earning the ACC automatic bid or one of the eight at-large bids to the NCAA tournament. This team looks dramatically different than it did in the fall, and although the road to the NCAA tournament is filled with twists and turns, Duke is very much in the conversation.

The Blue Devils next step in their quest for a bid will be another home match against No. 8 Syracuse this Saturday.

Duke Chronicle

Nijziel anchors Iowa field hockey’s defense

The defender from the Netherlands has grown both on and off the field to become a key cog in Iowa’s solid back line.

Ben Palya

Michigan Forward Sarah Pyrtek works to move the ball around Iowa defenders Anthe Nijziel (6) and Harper Dunne (23) during a field hockey game between Iowa and Michigan at Grant Field on Saturday, March 15, 2021. “The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines, 2-1, in a shootout.” Jeff Sigmund

This season, Iowa field hockey’s defense has been stellar under seventh-year head coach Lisa Cellucci. Thanks in large part to the efforts of junior defender Anthe Nijziel, Iowa has only surrendered four goals in its first seven games.

Since she arrived in Iowa City in 2018, Nijziel has been in Cellucci’s starting lineup.

The first game and start of Nijziel’s Hawkeye career came against then-No. 14 Wake Forest, and she did not disappoint.

Nijziel and the Hawkeye defense gave up just one goal in what amounted to a 2-1 Iowa win.

That game proved to be a tone-setter for the entirety of the Hawkeyes’ 2018 campaign, as Iowa would go on to hold its opponents to 1.10 goals per game for the remainder of the season.

The following season, Nijziel once again started in all of Iowa’s games, helping the Hawkeyes hold their opponents to 1.23 scores per game on 6.14 shots per contest.

Despite the quick start to her career in the Black and Gold, Nijziel has continued to make strides on the field throughout her career.

“Every part of her game, her tackling, her individual defense, and her distribution, has gotten better and better,” Cellucci said. “To cap that with her fitness and physical presence as she’s just gotten stronger and faster — that’s made a world of difference.”

Nominated as one of this year’s team captains, Nijziel has become a leader off the field as much as she is on the field.

“She’s a great leader on and off the field, and she has a voice,” sophomore midfielder Soffie Stribos said. “Her passing ability is amazing, and also her organization. She’s a really big strength of this team and we wouldn’t be where we are today without her.

Nijziel has been an offensive threat too — especially during penalty corners. The Eindhoven, Netherlands, native finished the 2019 season with 13 points to her name, including six goals and an assist — good for seventh-best on the Hawkeyes’ roster.

Nijziel said she developed her competitive edge at a young age, when she played field hockey against her brother.

Nijziel comes from a field hockey family. Both her parents played field hockey, and her father coached her until she was 12 years old.

“It was always very competitive because we would play field hockey in the streets and it was always really fun to play together,” Nijziel said.

Nijziel has earned her fair share of individual honors at Iowa. Last season, Nijziel was named to the All-Big Ten second team and the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s All-West Regional team.

Nijziel has carried her award-winning momentum into the 2020-21 season too, as she has already claimed Big Ten Player of the Week honors on one occasion.

For Nijziel, however, individual awards will never be as satisfying as team victories.

“I don’t really focus on those, I just want to focus on the team and get better every day with the team,” Nijziel said. “I try to focus more on the team than on those awards because those awards are also more like team trophies.”

The Daily Iowan

Field hockey still hungry after No. 16 national ranking

by Aaron Tully

The Hawks picked up their first two wins of the season over La Salle and Delaware. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

The St. Joe’s field hockey team’s strong start to the season has been a team effort.

Senior forward and team captain Jordan Olenginski said that the delayed start to the season gave the team time to further their connection off the field, which has led to success on the field.

“Not having games in the fall was helpful for us to grow as a team and to build those connections off the field,” Olenginski said. “Off the field, this is the closest that any team has been during my four years at St. Joe’s.”

With a record of 2-1, the Hawks have picked up wins over La Salle University and the University of Delaware, on their way to a No. 16 national ranking which is their 32nd consecutive appearance in the poll since September 2017.

Head Coach Lynn Farquhar said being ranked is always exciting, but the team’s motivation should be found elsewhere.

“It’s encouraging because you can see your hard work is paying off,” Farquhar said. “However, I think this group is just excited to better themselves and the team.”

Farquhar said the team is competitive this season because underclassmen players have stepped up due to a supportive team culture built throughout the program.

“The goal is to get the best group out there that we can,” Farquhar said. “We need everybody to compete and share their strengths.”

Olenginski said the coaches emphasized that everyone on the roster has a role. The underclassmen in particular have adapted well and adjusted seamlessly to playing at the collegiate level, making them an instrumental part of the team’s success.

“They’re not timid or afraid,” Olenginski said. “It’s just the beginning for them, and they’re going to do awesome things for us this season.”

Two underclassmen already were recognized as conference standouts. Sophomore goalkeeper Robin Bleekemolen was named the Atlantic 10 (A-10) Defensive Player of the Week for March 16, and freshman midfielder Celeste Smits was named A-10 Rookie of the Week.

But for Bleekemolen, this is just the start. She is thankful for her success, but like the rest of the team, still recognizes room for growth and improvement.

“I wouldn’t say yet that where I am right now is where I could be,” Bleekemolen said. “I still have a lot to prove and improve on.”

The team is drawing motivation from past Hawks teams as well. Bleekemolen said one reason for her success is what she learned from two-time All-American goalie Victoria Kammerinke ’20 last season.

“She was a great influence on me,” Bleekemolen said. “Her influence makes me want to succeed as much as she did.”

Farquhar said her players keep each other focused amid the challenges that the team has faced this season.

“I’m really proud of their resiliency. They have come in with this positive mindset,” Farquhar said. “We’ve hit some hurdles and performance barriers. And with COVID, there’s been some unexpected hiccups in the road and they keep pushing through.”

Farquhar added that her team’s willingness to trust each other has been a big factor in their success.

“What we’ve faced off the field has really helped this group,” Farquhar said. “This group decided that they wanted to improve as individuals, as teammates and that really helped us.”

Bleekemolen said the team has worked together to get through any setbacks they’ve faced and turned them into opportunities for growth.

“The ranking definitely motivates me,” Bleekemolen said. “It motivates everyone on the team to keep giving their best effort each day, on and off the field.”

Olenginski said she and her teammates thought they were ranked lower than they should have been and they are still on a mission to prove themselves.

“The ranking made us even hungrier going into the weekend playing Delaware,” Olenginski said. “Seeing the number 16 ranking makes us hungrier to prove that we are a better team than the ranking shows.”

SJU Hawk News

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