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News for 29 March 2021

All the news for Monday 29 March 2021

UniKL take slim advantage

By Jugjet Singh

UniKL’s Ashran Hamsani (left) and Tenaga’s Aiman Nik Rozaimi vie for the ball in yesterday’s TNB Cup semi-final, first-leg match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Defending champions Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) used up all their nine lives to edge Tenaga Nasional 1-0 in the semi-final first leg of the TNB Cup at National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

UniKL scored the all-important goal in the 56th minute after stout defending by both sides made it hard to penetrate.

Harvinder Singh won a penalty stroke for UniKL, which was then converted by Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin.

Both teams will have to improve their penalty corner conversions in the next two days as UniKL wasted three while Tenaga fumbled five.

They will face off in the return leg on Wednesday.

"We barely survived this bruising match as Tenaga defended well while we could not score off the three penalty corners we won," said UniKL manager Datuk Amir Azhar Ibrahim.

UniKL's flicker Razie Rahim, who had scored seven goals from penalty corners, was a little jaded yesterday, and his listless attempts were easily stopped.

Tenaga coach Nor Azlan Bakar is ready to spring an upset on UniKL in the return leg.

"My players displayed a better performance today than in the Malaysia Hockey League. However, we could not convert our chances.

"UniKL were also at their best in defending, but we still have four more quarters, and I believe my players will be ready to spring a surprise on Wednesday," said Azlan Bakar.

RESULTS — S-FINALS, 1ST LEG, MEN'S TNB CUP: UniKL 1 Tenaga Nasional 0, Terengganu HT 2 Maybank 0.

WOMEN'S VIVIAN MAY SOARS CUP: Blue Warriors 3 UniTen-KPT 3, UniKL Ladies 8 Sabah 0.

New Straits Times

UniTen-KPT leave it late for draw

By Jugjet Singh

A UniTen-KPT player fights for the ball against Police Blue Warriors in the first-leg semi-final match of the Vivian May Soars Cup at National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil. - Pic source: Facebook/UniKLHockey

Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UniTen-KPT) staged a late fightback to earn a 3-3 draw with Police Blue Warriors in yesterday's semi-final, first-leg match of the Vivian May Soars Cup at National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Police took a 3-1 lead but blew it away. The Cops will have to defend better in the return leg on Wednesday.

Ellya Amanina Ellias gave Police the lead in the 31st minute, but UniTen-KPT's Nurmaizatul Hanim Syafi made it 1-1 in the 41st minute.

Police then raced to a two-goal lead through Nurfatin Dizana Zaidi (42nd) and Wan Norfaiezah Saiuti (45th) but lost their grip after that.

Nurmaizatul Hanim (46th) and Raja Norsharina Shabuddin (49th) scored a goal each to help UniTen-KPT earn a draw.

UniTen-KPT coach Lailin Abu Hassan was a relieved man but hoped his players will be aggressive in the return leg.

"Yes, we were late to get into the match and almost paid the price for a cold start.

"I have noticed that my players are a little slow to start in every match this season, and we need to drill this into them in the next two days to make a flying start in the return leg.

"When we were down 3-1, we threw caution to the wind and went on the attack because we had nothing to lose, and it paid off handsomely.

"But we cannot take the same approach in the return leg if we hope to defend our Vivian May Soars Cup," said Lailin.

New Straits Times

Nunnink savouring new chapter with Den Bosch ahead of first European date

Laura Nunnink on the attack against HGC. Picture: Robert Sanders Photography

While Den Bosch are European women’s hockey’s most decorated club, for one of their star turns – Laura Nunnink – this represents a new beginning and a big chance at a first piece of club silverware.

She joined the club last summer from Oranje-Rood, looking for a new challenge after so long as the key player in Eindhoven, the club where she started her hockey career.

But the opportunity for the 26-year-old to move up the road to their Brabant rivals was one that came at the right time with current coach Raoul Ehren adding the brilliant midfielder to his ranks.

“Oranje-Zwart and then Oranje-Rood was definitely my club, my hockey home,” she told the EHL website. “I always felt super at home and it was really hard to leave them. Raoul contacted me to see if I was interested.

“For me, I am at a point in my career where I want to take an extra step and still get better. I was looking for a new challenge and a new environment.

“For me, personally, it was time for something new. With Oranje-Rood, they were at a point of starting to rebuild. They got to the playoffs, something I was really proud to do with the club, but they needed to build a new team and that wasn’t really where I wanted to be in my career.”

Den Bosch’s star-studded line-up. Picture: Robert Sanders Photography

And so where better than Den Bosch, the 16-time European cup winners with all of them coming since 2000. A team stacked with fellow World Cup winners like Lidewij Welten, Marloes Keetels, Sanne Koolen, Frédérique Matla, Ireen van den Assem, Josine Koning and Margot van Geffen.

“At Den Bosch, I knew already so many people from the national team and a good connection with a lot of them and they were so welcoming and I am really happy with the decision.”

The nature of her move was an odd one, unable to say a full goodbye to the club which made her due to the curtailed 2019/20 season. She did return for a league match in this campaign but ongoing restrictions meant there was not the usual buzz around the club.

“Due to corona, it was very strange to go back to the club with a different team. There were not a lot of people at the club, no fans allowed, basically us and Oranje-Rood. It was super-nice to play against people like Marlena [Rybacha] but it was odd not going to the changing room of Oranje-Rood, in the away team room.”

But now is a time for looking forward and her new biggest rival is AH&BC Amsterdam in both the Hoofdklasse and the ABN AMRO EHL FINAL4 next Saturday.

Amsterdam were the last winners of the European Cup in 2019 and are just behind Den Bosch on that all-time list with 14 gold medals in the top club competition.

“It really is a big rivalry. I don’t know for how many years it has been Den Bosch and Amsterdam as champion! That for me, it is the biggest competitor for us. It is big, everyone talks about it. We know we need to be sharp and ready and we are all looking forward to it.”

Den Bosch lost their league game 1-0 and have a three-point gap to make up in the league but this FINAL4 is exactly the kind of game she made the switch for and she cannot wait for the day to come.

“Both Den Bosch and Amsterdam have a lot of internationals from the Dutch team which makes things a bit special, doing at club level.

“It makes it a nice battle and the level is so high and there will be so many talented players on the pitch.

“I’m super excited we are able to play the EHL first of all. We heard news that it may be cancelled but then they came up with the FINAL4 so we are delighted that, during this pandemic, we are still able to play. I never played in Europe before!”

Euro Hockey League media release

Gibson and Alster getting in tune for maiden EHL Women campaign

As a day-one afficionado of the competition, Der Club an der Alster goalkeeper Amy Gibson reckons it’s “pretty cool” she is among the first to contest EHL Women next weekend at the Wagener Stadium.

“I’ve watched the EHL since it started and the old theme tune… we sang that a lot!” she told the EHL website.

“It’s pretty cool, having watched it for how ever many years and we’ve never seen any females at it so to be able to play in the first one and have an opportunity to win it is so cool!

“EuroHockey’s hashtag #EquallyAmazing is giving the stage for the women to be on an equal stage to the men so it is very exciting. I’m relishing the opportunity.”

Gibson moved over in 2017 and is among a growing cohort of Scottish players plying their trade in Hamburg with Tommy Alexander, Gavin Byers and Michael Bremner at city rivals UHC while Laura Swanson has joined her at Alster this term.

And she is loving life there following a lengthy spell in London as part of the GB setup, moving on to help Alster win their first ever women’s German outdoor national championship.

It is a strong line-up featuring the strong presence of Anne Schröder at the heart of things, strikers Lisa Altenburg and Hannah Gablac up front while Kira Horan and Viki Huse marshall the deefence.

Alster goalkeeper coach Jimmy Lewis – a 2004 Olympian – was key in getting her involved and it has “worked out perfectly”.

“The language is difficult but hockey is the same language everywhere. My German on the pitch is better than my German off it! We play a really attacking style which I enjoy and we have been really successful with the players we have.

“The group had been together a long time when I joined to take it to the next level. The year before they got to the final four and lost in the semis and then we won the year I arrived and the following year. So it was great to arrive and help them to their first title outdoors.

“I think Scottish and German people do gel well! Maybe the Scottish people are like a breath of fresh air for them; we are all pretty happy to be at training and bring quite a bit of energy. It does work well for the team!”

She has played a key role, earning the Most Entertaining Goalkeeper title from the German indoor championships among her accolades.

And the team’s bond also brought some success in their first European campaign in 2019 when they took bronze in the European Club Cup. Gibson say there is so much to take from that competition, particularly for the club’s youngsters in their first taste of that kind of competition.

“Last time in the Club Cup, we played a Spanish team [Real Socieded] in the semi-final and didn’t have our best game. A lot of our club players had probably never played a competition like that, facing a non-German team and on an unfamiliar pitch.

“We learned a lot and take a lot of experience from that. We want to put right what we did wrong there.

“In the third/fourth playoff, we beat Den Bosch which was a huge win for us and for Germany in general. They don’t often win against Dutch sides. That was massive to beat them for our confidence and hopefully we can achieve slightly better than third this time.

“There’s a determination there. After we lost to the Spanish side, we said ‘we’re not going home without a medal’. You probably saw that at the Rio Olympics when the German team won the bronze medal.

“We wanted to go out with a bang and win our last match. There’s massive determination and against Den Bosch – the most decorated European club in women’s history – it was a collective effort to win that bronze.”

This time around, they have another Spanish opponent in Madrid’s Club de Campo. The two clubs preparations are vastly different with Alster only back on the field in the past fortnight – albeit winning three games in succession – while Campo have played seven times in 2021.

But Gibson says the focus has been designed to peak specifically for this EHL weekend.

“Our preparation has been a wee bit disjointed because of the weather and a frozen pitch in Hamburg.

“But everyone has known about it for a good few months and it was a goal for the season to be ready for the EHL. Even though we only have three games before it and the Spanish team has been going a lot longer, we know it is what we have been preparing for so we will be ready.”

Euro Hockey League media release

"Indoor Hockey helps outdoor game" says Canada Hockey icon Ken Pereira

If Canadian field hockey has often punched well above its weight, it owes much to the likes of Ken Pereira. The midfielder played in over 400 international matches (outdoors and indoors) and boosted Canada’s international campaigns including two Olympics (2000 & 2008) with tireless energy, sharp skills and excellent reading of the game.

The 47-year-old came into field hockey relatively late at age 16 having dabbled in ice hockey, football and indoor hockey before making his outdoor debut for Canada in 1994. He never looked back after that and his high moments for the Maple Leaf includes the match-winner against arch rivals Argentina in the 1999 Pan American Games final at home in Winnipeg that sealed a spot in the Olympics. Of Indian (and Goan) lineage, Pereira was conferred the honour of torch bearer for Canada’s contingent at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Canadian field hockey icon Ken Pereira

Toronto-born Pereira has been active in a cross-section of field hockey activities in Canada and continues to devote time and energy to develop the sport in his country.

Excerpts from an interview with stick2hockey.com:

Q: Please tell us how important it is to get Canadian icons to guide and mentor young players. You have been right up there in this regard so please share some thoughts and experiences

A: “Yes, I believe it’s very important to have continuity from generation to generation, from older experienced players to new younger Canadian players. Just to help them develop and mentor them to show what it takes to become a great international player. To help prepare them physically, mentally and technically. I had great guidance from my more experienced teammates, they helped me a great deal, and made the player I became. I owe a lot to them.”

Q: How severe was the impact of Covid-19 on Canadian hockey and with particular reference to your efforts.

A: “It was really severe to our sport not just in Canada but all over the world. Canada already has the difficulty of being a big country and getting all the players to train in one spot. Weather also plays a big factor in our athletes training. So when you throw Covid into the mix it was devastating. For the first time in my life I haven’t picked up a stick in 14 months. My new baby boy may also have a hand in that as well (laughs). It truly has handcuffed us as coaches in progressing our athletes along. A year is lost and now have to make up for that lost time. Your window as an athlete is fairly small so you always want to make the most of it.”

Q:You are involved in Indoor Hockey at the moment. Please tell us whether the indoor game helps develop outdoor skills.

A: “Yes, I do continue to train with the indoor men’s team and also help coach the younger generation of kids. The indoor game is quite different — very small space, different skills needed at times and off the ball running is very crucial as is understanding the defensive part of the game. I really do believe that indoor is big help to the outdoor game, your skills in tight spaces, your passing accuracy, your understanding of spacing, your defensive skills. It was a big help to my overall game.”

Q:There is a total absence of Indoor Hockey in India and Pakistan. Iran are the Asian champions. Do you feel India and Pakistan should get Indoor Hockey going ASAP?

A: “It’s hard to argue with the skill and talent level of India and Pakistan, such great teams for a very long time. All teams have their ups and downs, new coaches, new players, there are always periods of adjustments. I think with the climate in India and Pakistan it’s hard to imagine them going to indoor hockey. If they could maybe try it for a month or so maybe they would enjoy it and could see some benefit in it.”

Q: There’s talk of Hockey 5s replacing 11-a-side hockey at the Olympics. Would Indoor Hockey be a better product at the Games?

A: I haven’t heard too much about Hockey 5s and it replacing the regular 11-a-side game. I am sure there is a cost factor there with teams being smaller in the number of people involved. However 11-a-side hockey at the Summer Olympics is great and I hope they keep it as is. As for the indoor game, I find it very entertaining and I think it would be great to see it someday in the Winter Olympics.


Busselton getaway a chance for Hockeyroos to reenergise

As COVID continues to impact when or where the Hockeyroos’ next international will come from, the squad is spending a week in the coastal Western Australian town of Busselton.

Interim Hockeyroos Head Coach Katie Allen says it is an opportunity to get away as a group without the outside distractions of work or study and allow the players to reenergise for what is going to be the hardest couple of months of training before Olympic selection.

“It’s a good opportunity to get away from the daily training environment and go somewhere different to freshen up and regroup,” said Allen.

“It has been a difficult couple of weeks and I think it’s a chance to take some time and be together without distraction and work through some things together.

“It allows us to focus on what’s next and where we go from here, both tactically and also on our team connections which we have done a lot of work on in the past six weeks and even before that.”

Heading to a region that has a proud and passionate hockey following, the training camp also allows the Hockeyroos to inspire the next generation.

“There is a really strong hockey community in Busselton,” said Allen.

“They are going to embrace us coming down there and there is going to be a coaching clinic, we have got school kids coming down for sessions and the local community is aware of when we are training so I’m sure we’ll get great support from them.

“This will give all of us some perspective on being role models for the community and how we can be an inspiration to others.

“Because we haven’t been playing internationals, it’s important to have the opportunity to see the impact we can have on the community, so to be able to engage and enjoy that environment is certainly a positive.”

Hockey Australia media release

Hamilton, van den Noort Key Field Hockey's 8-0 Victory Over Quinnipiac

Hamilton Scores Two Goals and Adds an Assist

STORRS, Conn. - Sophomore midfielder Sophie Hamilton scored two more goals while freshman Claire van den Noort dished-out three assists to lead the No. 8 University of Connecticut field hockey team to a dominant 8-0 victory over intrastate foe Quinnipiac.  With the win, the Huskies improve to 7-1 on the year and 6-1 in BIG EAST play.  The loss drops the Bobcats' record to 2-5 overall and 2-5 in BIG EAST action.

Hamilton once again jump started the UConn attack, scoring the game's first two goals in the first 13:37 of the contest.  Her first goal came just 6:09 into the game after she gained possession in the Huskies' half of the field and dribbled through traffic and all the way into the QU circle.  She faked out the final Bobcat defender and ripped a backhanded shot past QU keeper Mack Vorel and into the  back of the net, giving UConn a lead it would not relinquish.  Hamilton's second goal of the game after she controlled a rebound and punched in her team-leading 11th goal of the year.  

The first of Hamilton's two assists on the afternoon came 21:33 into the contest after she found Jessica Dembrowski for a redirection at point-blank range.  

The contest was preceded by a senior day ceremony to honor the careers of Tori Albright, Chiara Ma and Vivienne Tucker.  All three seniors started and Tucker got into the scoring action just 1:53 into the second half after she took a feed from van den Noort and ripped a shot past Vorel.  The goal was her first this season and the sixth of her career.

UConn would add four more third-quarter goals, before replacing nearly the entire lineup with reserves to begin the fourth quarter.

The Huskies took 32 shots, 23 of which they put on goal and did not allow the Bobcats to tally a single shot.  Additionally, Connecticut created 16 penalty corner chances.  

UConn keeper Cheyenne Sprecher did not face a shot on the afternoon while Vorel was busy and made 15 saves.  

The Huskies return to action on Saturday, April 3 when the team travels to Philadelphia for a weekend series at Villanova.  Gametimes for Saturday and Sunday are at 12 p.m.

UConn Huskies

Rutgers field hockey loses pair of weekend games to Michigan

Sean Miles

The Rutgers field hockey team dropped both games in its first meetings with Michigan this season. – Photo by Rutgers Women’s Field Hockey / Twitter

The Rutgers field hockey team dropped both games in its first meetings with Michigan this season.

The Rutgers field hockey team suffered two losses at the hands of Michigan this weekend in Ann Arbor. The No. 10 Scarlet Knights (5-3, 5-3) fell to the No. 6 Wolverines (5-2, 4-0) by a score of 1-0 in both matchups. Rutgers has now lost 6 of its last 7 meetings against Michigan.

The first game was scoreless through regulation and two 10 minute overtime periods. Senior goalkeeper Gianna Glatz made a save on a penalty stroke late in the fourth quarter that helped push the Knights into overtime.

Rutgers took 6 shots to the Wolverines' 7, while each team both had two shots on goal. The Knights fell in the penalty shootout 3-1, with junior midfielder Milena Redlingshoefer being the only Rutgers player to score.

Fifth-year senior midfielder Katie Larmour had two shots to lead the team in the first game. Junior midfielder Tayla Parkes, senior forward Kassidy Shetler and senior back Kerrie Burns each recorded one shot. Larmour and Shetler both recorded shots on goal, but ultimately, the Knights were unable to convert.

In the second matchup, overtime was not needed. Kathryn Peterson scored 26 minutes into the game, putting Michigan ahead and giving them a lead that would be held for the rest of the game. Rutgers was not able to answer as the Wolverines were able to tally six total saves, with three coming in the final quarter.

The Knights outshot Michigan 9-6 and had an advantage on corners but were not able to convert a goal. Sophomore forward Rachel Houston led the team with two shots on goal, with junior forward Clayre Smith, freshman forward Bridy Molyneaux, Larmour and Redlingshoefer each recording one.

The two losses drop Rutgers to fifth in the Big Ten standings. The Wolverines remain undefeated against conference opponents, only trailing Northwestern and Iowa in the Big Ten.

The Knights return to Piscataway for two matchups against Penn State on Friday and Sunday. Rutgers has lost its last five encounters with the Nittany Lions (4-3, 3-1), its match on Nov. 3, 2019, being the most recent. The Knights have not lost at home this season.

The Daily Targum

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