There are 28 matches left to be played until the Grand Final on the women's side of the FIH Pro League. Here's a look at match-ups from the past two weeks as well as where the competing countries stand.
China recorded a fine FIH Pro League victory on the road, getting the better of hosts Great Britain at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
All of the goals came in the third quarter of the match, with Great Britain’s Giselle Ansley netting a penalty corner to cancel out Ou Zixia’s deflected opener before Peng Yang scored what proved to be the winner with a superb penalty corner deflection in the 44th minute.
There were chances for both sides in two very even opening two quarters, but neither side could make the most of their opportunities. No. 2 Great Britain - who claimed a bonus point in the reverse fixture in Changzhou thanks to a shootout victory - largely dominated the second quarter, but No. 10 China were organized in defense and soak up the pressure throughout.
The game burst into life in the third quarter, with Great Britain’s Tessa Howard stinging the hands of China goalkeeper Ye Jiao in the opening seconds of a frenetic period. China took the lead rather fortuitously when Ou Zixia’s attempted pass from the right was kicked into her own net by the back-tracking Anna Toman, but Giselle Ansley soon leveled with a low penalty corner effort that clipped the pads of Ye before finding the bottom right corner. However, China restored their lead before the end of the period, with Peng Yang scoring a brilliant penalty corner deflection to give the visitors a lead going into the final period.
Great Britain put the visitors under great pressure in the fourth quarter but could not get the breakthrough, with China’s defense showing full commitment to claim all three points from the contest.
It was second versus fourth in the women’s fixture as Argentina looked to continue a sensational run of form which saw them win six successive FIH Pro League matches coming into this meeting against No. 3 Australia. Las Leonas were 1-0 winners of the reverse fixture in Sydney thanks to a solitary strike from Delfina Merino, a player absent for the rematch against a Hockeyroos team that are still the only team to have claimed an FIH Pro League victory over reigning world champions and league leaders The Netherlands.
The hosts made a lethargic start in their attempt to close the gap on the Dutch table-toppers, falling behind just two minutes into the match when Maddy Fitzpatrick’s high drag flick hit the roof of Argentina’s net, with goalkeeper Maria Mutio getting a touch but unable to deflect the ball away to safety. However, the home fans had something to smile about in the second quarter when Silvina D’Elia struck an emphatic equalizer, bringing great reward to the penalty corner won by Player of the Match Julieta Jankunas.
Eugenia Trinchinetti missed Argentina’s best opportunity of the third quarter when she failed to get a touch in front of an open goal, with the Hockeyroos successfully absorbing long spells of pressure from the hosts to ensure that they would at least take a point from away from their trip to South America. However, it was the hosts who took the bonus point with a 3-1 win in the shoot-out, with D’Elia, Carla Rebecchi and Jankunas scoring the goals and goalkeeper Cristina Cosentino coming off the bench to only concede once.
Goals from Player of the Match Rosie Malone, Savannah Fitzpatrick (2) and Emily Chalker earned Australia a 4-0 FIH Pro League victory away from home against USA, strengthening their claim to a top four finish with a fine performance at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa.
The visiting No. 3 Australia - missing defensive rock Jodie Kenny and in-form attacker Mariah Williams, who scored the crucial goals in their 2-1 win over USA in the reverse fixture - dominated the opening quarter virtually from start to finish, and had the statistics to prove it. With the Hockeyroos recording 62 percent possession, 18 circle penetrations, three penalty corners and five shots, it seemed only a matter of time before the resistance of this young No. 12 USA team was finally broken, although it would take something very special to do it.
The opening goal arrived four minutes into the second period through Rosie Malone, who produced a moment of brilliance with two changes of direction at the top of the USA circle before unleashing an unstoppable backhand shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Kelsey Bing to find the bottom right corner.
Despite conceding, USA produced a much-improved performance in the second quarter, giving the home fans good reason to feel optimistic about their prospects going into a third quarter that they largely controlled. Ashley Hoffman flashed a backhand strike just wide before Anna Dessoye wasted two excellent chances as the USA applied sustained pressure on the Australia goal but failed to make a mark on the score-board.
Those missed opportunities were ruthlessly punished by the Hockeyroos in the fourth period, scoring three unanswered goals to put the result out of the reach of USA. Savannah Fitzpatrick played a key role with a quick-fire double strike, notching her fifth and sixth goals of the competition to take the score to 3-0 and, on a personal note, move second behind New Zealand’s Olivia Merry, who has eight goals, in the FIH Pro League top scorers chart. Fitzpatrick turned provider for Australia’s fourth, firing across the face of goal for Emily Chalker to guide into an open net to complete the scoring at 4-0.
Resurgent attacker Carla Rebecchi produced yet another FIH Pro League Player of the Match performance as Argentina recorded a comfortable 4-0 away win over Pan American rivals USA at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa.
Rebecchi - who returned to the national squad in September 2018, 18 months after retiring from the game and six months after starting a family - was once again in exceptional form, scoring once and playing a starring role in the other three strikes as Las Leonas strengthened their hold on second position in the standings.
No. 4 Argentina came into the contest as heavy favorites, already sitting second in the FIH Pro League standings thanks to seven wins and just one loss from the eleven matches they had played. However, the No. 12 USA have long been a thorn in the side of Las Leonas, something that came to the fore when the two sides clashed in the reverse fixture in Cordoda, where Argentina fought back from 2-0 down to tie the match at 2-2 before claiming a bonus point by winning the shootout.
Carlos Retegui’s Argentina made an excellent start to the contest and thought that they had opened the scoring just two minutes into the second quarter through Rebecchi, but her close range finish was ruled by the video umpire after USA successfully appealed regarding an obstruction in the circle.
The South Americans only needed to wait another four minutes before getting the goal that their endeavor deserved, with Agustina Albertarrio finishing off a penalty corner after Rebecchi’s drag flick caused havoc in the USA defensive circle. Argentina finished the half having racked up 29 circle entries and 12 shots compared to USA’s five circle penetrations and zero shots, although the red, white and blue had a huge chance to go into the break on level terms when Mackenzie Allessie found herself through on goal only for the ever-reliable Silvina D’Elia to chase back and clear the danger.
USA won two penalty corners in the opening minutes of the third quarter, forcing Argentina into some frenetic defending with the first before a direct strike from Kathleen Sharkey forced a good save from Leonas goalkeeper Cristina Cosentino, diving to her right to force the ball to safety.
Just when it seemed that an American comeback might be on the cards, Argentina won a penalty corner and duly doubled their advantage. This time the sensational Rebecchi did get her name on the score-sheet, sending a low drag-flick that somehow squeezed under the right foot of USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing.
Rebecchi’s influence on the first three quarters had been huge, and it was a theme that continued into the fourth period when she created two goals for Victoria Granatto, who found the net with close range efforts in the 52nd and 53rd minutes to complete a resounding victory for Las Leonas.
Per the FIH:
The following points will be awarded for each match:
- Three (3) points to the winner in normal time
- One (1) point to the winner of a shootout following a draw plus one (1) bonus point, making a total of two (2) points
- One (1) point to the loser of the shootout, in the event of a draw
- No points to the loser of a match in normal time
During the season up until the Grand Final, teams will be ranked in the FIH Pro League table by the percentage of points gained relative to the maximum number possible to have attained at any given time.
For example, a team who have played six matches can achieve a maximum of 18 points from winning all six matches. If they have achieved 9 points after six matches, they will be ranked in the league table based on a score of 50%. The aim of this system is to more easily illustrate team performances at the times in the season when different teams have played significantly different numbers of matches.