FIH Pro League Women's Standings as of May 30

May 30, 2019, 7 p.m. (ET)

The women's side of the FIH Pro League has seen tons of action the past few weeks. Now with only 22 match-ups remain until the women's FIH Pro League Finals take place, check out a quick recap of recent games and where competing nations currently stand. 

 


 1  - 
     SO   2  

  

The first quarter was a relatively quiet affair with neither goalkeeper troubled unduly. Cristina Cosentino was forced to block a Great Britain attempt in the first penalty corner of the game, but her counterpart Sabbie Heesh simply had to watch Argentina’s only meaningful attacking shot fizz past the post from a Silvina D’Elia penalty corner. Argentina was unlucky not to break the deadlock in the second quarter as a beautifully clean strike from D’Elia was cleared from the line by Laura Unsworth, defending on the Great Britain post.


Through the work of Agustina Albertarrio and Eugenie Trinchinetti, Argentina began to make in-roads into the Great Britain defence. But it was Great Britain who had the next serious attempt on the goal as Giselle Ansley fired in a shot that flew past the Leonas’ goal. This pressure saw a momentum change with three minutes left before the half-time break as Great Britain began to find their rhythm. Jo Hunter was adding pace down the right-hand side of the pitch and Suzy Petty and captain Hollie Pearne-Webb began to direct the action in the centre of the park.

The second half began brightly with both teams showing more energy. First Erica Sanders had a chance to put the ball in the back of the net but was blocked by Consentino. Just seconds later Albertarrio was unlucky not to lodge the ball in the top of Great Britain’s goal – her innovative shot was inches too high. The breakthrough goal came in the most unfortunate of circumstances. A wild cross into the Great Britain circle from Albertarrio clipped Pearne-Webb’s shinpad and deflected past Heesh into the Great Britain goal.

Great Britain fought back strongly, with some great incisive runs from Sarah Evans, and Laura Unsworth had a golden opportunity to bring the game back to even terms. Her shot was tantalisingly close but flew wide. Lily Owsley was on hand to bring the scores back to level after a melee in the Argentina circle. Another run by Player of the Match Evans earned a penalty corner, the ball bobbled around after Unsworth’s initial shot and Owlsey pounced as it ran loose.

In the shoot-out, Silvinia D’Elia made no mistake as she fired into the corner of the goal past Heesh. Both Anna Toman and Hannah Martin shot wide for Great Britain, while Alberatarrio was also guilty of firing wide. Pearne-Webb took her opportunity to bring Great Britain level on terms again.

In the final rounds of the shoot-out, neither Sarah Jones nor Evans were able to score for Great Britain, and surprisingly Carla Rebecchi was unable to give her side the edge.

The winning strike fell to Julieta Jankunas, who took the ball around Heesh and then tipped the ball into the goal just before it rolled over the backline.


 3  - 


It was lucky match number 13 for USA women as they beat China 3-1 and recorded their first win of the FIH Pro League.

USA nearly opened their account within the first three minutes of the game when captain Kathleen Sharkey fired a reverse stick shot from the top of the ‘D’. Her rasping shot struck the post but it served as early warning as to the home team’s intentions. A noticeable change in the China team in the past two seasons has been a greater willingness to attack and Sun Xiao demonstrated this early in the match with a strong run into the USA circle. The result was the first penalty corner of the match but Ou Zixia was unable to convert the strike. Although China might be playing with a more attacking structure, they never neglect their defending responsibilities and so it showed when Alyssa Parker tried to find a way into the China circle following a quick break. Seven China players were instantly back and defending and so the quarter finished goalless.

In a mirror image of the start to the first quarter, it was Sharkey who nearly scored the opening goal. The forward weaved her way into the circle but her shot was dealt with by Ye Jiao in the China goal. As in the first half, China responded quickly and won a penalty corner. Gu Bingfeng attempted her trademark drag flick but the shot was chased down by the USA defense. Two further penalty corners saw more China variations but the first runner, Laura Hurff, was alert to the danger and closed things down, albeit taking a sharp knock to her knee in the process.

The first goal went to USA. Again, the ever-busy Sharkey was at the heart of the action, winning a penalty corner, then taking the shot that created an opportunity for Anna Dessoye to poke home the rebound to give her team the lead.

China came back strongly with some great passing moves that really stretched the hard-working USA team. They were rewarded with yet another penalty corner. Again Gu Bingfeng was the target but USA had done their homework and the variation was effectively blocked by the disciplined defense, marshaled by Player of the Match Kelsey Bing, who was enjoying a good game in the USA goal.

USA’s lead was doubled towards the end of the second quarter. On this occasion, Dessoye was the provider. Her bouncing ball into the circle evaded the defender and Lauren Moyer was on hand to tip the ball craftily over Ye Jiao’s shoulder.

China started the second half with some fast switches of play and a higher press but USA were playing with the confidence a two goal lead can provide. If China showed a glimpse of the ball, the nearest USA athlete would be on hand to punish the mistake. Song Xiaoming showed deft skills to dance her way through the USA defence. Her attack was followed seconds later by Yong Jing, who went one better, showing great 3D skills to carry the ball into the circle but, beautiful to watch as this passage of play was, there was still no outcome for the higher-ranked team.

Erin Matson nearly added to the score but her direct route to goal was halted with a great save by Ye Jiao. Seconds later, Linnea Gonzales made no mistake when her crisp penalty corner strike gave USA their first three-goal haul in the Pro League. China’s tenth penalty corner saw Bing pull off another great save. Gu Bingfeng’s shot was low and strong but the goalkeeper was lightening fast to the ball and cleared to safety. The final quarter saw China pushing their press even higher up the field of play. At one point only the ‘keeper and He Jiangxin were in the China half of the pitch as the Asian team sought a goal and a way back into the game.

China finally made a penalty corner count when captain Peng Yang threw her team a lifeline and slotted home to make it 3-1.

With seven minutes left on the clock, USA had to fight their nerves and remain calm as China wound up the pressure. With three minutes to go this pressure became even greater as China Head Coach Huang Yongsheng removed the goalkeeper so his team had 11 outfield players.

USA weathered the intense China attack and there was jubilation as the team celebrated their first FIH Pro League win.


 2  - 


The game began brightly, with Belgium showing that their intention was to play a swift passing game that would punish any lack of concentration on the part of the Great Britain players. For their part, Jo Hunter and Hannah Martin led the attack, largely down the right-hand side of the pitch, and the game looked set to be an open and lively encounter.

It was Great Britain who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first quarter. A typically surging run from Lily Owsley ended with a cross that just eluded Martin’s stick in front of the Belgium goal. For their part, the Red Panthers had won the first penalty corner of the game just minutes earlier but Great Britain’s Amy Tennant showed great awareness to come out and block the intended deflection.

The second quarter saw Great Britain pile the pressure onto the Red Panther’s defense. Goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooghe was called into action and made two outstanding saves to keep the host nation at bay. Laura Unsworth thought she had scored when she slammed the ball into the goal but the defensive midfielder was adjudged to have used the back of her stick.

The next chance fell to Hannah Martin. The midfielder is developing an intuitive partnership with Owsley and the combination led to a snap shot that led to another world-class save from D’Hooghe – the ‘keeper being forced to dive to her right to palm the ball away.

During their early FIH Pro League campaign, Belgium have been praised for their ability to connect with each other across the pitch, but the pressure from the Great Britain players made this style of play difficult to sustain. Dangerous players such as Alex Gerniers, Louise Versavel and Sophie Limauge were kept at bay by the discipline of the Great Britain defense, in particular Laura Unsworth, Anna Toman and Player of the Match Hollie Pearne-Webb.

The breakthrough came half-way through the third quarter. A powerful drag flick from Grace Balsdon finally broke the stalwart Belgium defense. Her shot, from a penalty corner, flew into the roof of the net and even D’Hooghe was unable to get a stick to it.

And so the match moved to the last quarter and there was a visible nervousness to the Great Britain team as Belgium pushed for the equalizer. That was all dispelled when Lily Owsley took the game by the scruff of the net and powered down the pitch, dodging Belgium sticks and finally releasing a backhand shot that flew into the top of the goal to double Great Britain’s lead.


 1  - 


Argentina’s women scored twice in the final five minutes to fight back from a goal down to beat Germany 2-1, with Valentina Costa and Silvina d’Elia on target as Las Leonas edged closer to confirming a top four finish that brings with it berths in both the FIH Pro League Grand Final and the FIH Olympic qualifiers. The Pan American giants sit second in the standings with just two matches left to play, while Germany remain just outside the top four in fifth position.

The opening quarter was fiercely contested, with Germany’s Charlotte Stapenhorst creating the first chance of note before Eugenia Trinchinetti missed an open goal after a perfect pass from Carla Rebecchi, who took advantage of a defensive mix-up. Rebecchi’s match was cut short due to a head injury just before the end of the quarter.*

Germany had a second quarter goal ruled out for dangerous play, but the home favorites were not to denied in the third period thanks to a moment of brilliance from Stapenhorst. Collecting an overhead pass on the edge of the Argentina circle, Stapenhorst deliberately held her shot until the perfect moment, eliminating both her marker and the Leonas goalkeeper Maria Mutio with a terrific strike into the bottom left corner to give Germany a 1-0 lead.

Argentina almost leveled the scores late in the third quarter when Silvina d’Elia’s penalty corner strike was tipped around the post by Germany shot-stopper Julia Sonntag, with the home favorites taking their advantage into a final quarter in which everything would change. Las Leonas pulled themselves level with five minutes remaining thanks to Valentina Costa, who sent a penalty corner drag-flick into the Germany net despite the best efforts of line-player Stapenhorst to clear the attempt. Just as it seemed the match was heading to a shoot-out, d’Elia stepped up to fire home a penalty corner winner with just 30 seconds of the match remaining, giving Argentina a superb win away from home.


 3  - 
     SO  5   


China held a 3-1 lead going into the fourth quarter, but strikes from Emilie Sinia and Michelle Struijk ensured that both teams would take at least a point, before the Red Panthers took the bonus point on offer by triumphing 5-4 in the shoot-out.

Going against their respective league positions, China were the better side in the opening exchanges and established a two goal lead inside three minutes as heavy rain fell in Changzhou. Zhang Xiaoxue scored with a perfectly executed penalty corner deflection before a superb counter-attack was expertly finished by Liang Meiyu, who moved past Belgian goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooghe before firing home from a tight angle.

Belgium recovered well from these two early blows to dominate the latter stages of the first quarter, but China held on and kept their opponents at bay throughout the second period, with goalkeeper Ye Jiao rarely tested by the Europeans.

The Red Panthers made the perfect start to the third quarter when Emma Puvrez scooped home at the second attempt from a penalty corner situation only for China to hit back through Guo Qiu, whose cross-shot from the left was inadvertently diverted across her own goal-line by Belgium shot-stopper D’Hooghe.

The fourth period was packed full of drama, with Belgium piling on the pressure and deservedly pulling themselves level at 3-3. Emilie Sinia volleyed home in the 51st minute before a slick penalty corner routine was converted just two minutes later, with Michelle Stuijk getting the all-important deflection in front of goal.

Whilst Belgium had the momentum, it was China who twice came close to winning the match in a dramatic final minute. The Red Panthers successfully defended a penalty corner before the hosts had the ball in the Belgian net only for it to be correctly ruled out due to an infringement in the lead-up, meaning that a shoot-out would be required to decide which team would take the bonus point.

The first barrage finished with the scores locked together at 4-4, thanks largely to a sensational finish from Belgium’s Stephanie Van Den Borre, who produced a stunning flick into the top right corner to send the shoot-out into sudden-death. Alix Gerniers scored what proved to be the decisive goal, with Belgium goalkeeper D’Hooghe forcing China’s Liang Meiyu into missing the target. The Europeans had claimed two points from a maximum three away from home, keeping their top four ambitions very much on track.
  


 4  -  1 


Great Britain’s women (WR:2) were 2-0 winners against Belgium (WR:13) when they met in London just under two weeks ago, a score-line that was reversed in the first fifteen minutes of the re-match in Antwerp. The Red Panthers - who took two points from a possible three with a shoot-out success in against China in Changzhou just five days ago - matched the achievement of their men’s team by scoring twice in the opening quarter, with Pauline LeClef and Judith Vandermeiren putting the hosts firmly in control. Both goals came from penalty corners, with LeClef’s fierce forehand strike beating GB goalkeeper Nicola Cochrane at her near post before Vandermeiren doubled the advantage with a close range effort.

Emily Defroand went close to pulling a goal back for Great Britain in the second quarter, but it was Belgium who scored again early in the third period when Alix Gerniers pounced from close range after an fine turn and shot from the excellent Ambre Ballenghien. A yellow card five minute suspension for Tessa Howard did not help great Britain’s cause, although the visitors did pull a goal back early in the fourth period when Sarah Robertson netted from a slick penalty corner routine.

Great Britain’s hopes of a comeback ended just one minute after Robertson’s strike. A second yellow card for Howard resulted in a second suspension, with Belgium putting their opponents to the sword just seconds later when team captain Barbara Nelen cashed home a blistering strike from the top of the circle to complete the match scoring at 4-1.

 

 

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.