Author: Mitch Wynd
The Hockeyroos have reached the inaugural FIH Pro League final after a nail biting shootout against Argentina following a 1-1 draw in Amstelveen.
Argentina were on the front foot for much of the game and hadn’t lost a shootout in four attempts throughout the competition - but the pressure of a semi-final is different to a home & away match and the Hockeyroos stepped up to the plate.
The final will be played against the winner of the second semi-final between Germany and the Netherlands.
From the outset, Argentina had numbers streaming forward early and stretched the Australian defence. Their attacking run saw them open the scoring through Julieta Jankunas, who had the composure to turn and shoot past the onrushing Rachael Lynch.
The bulk of the momentum throughout the first quarter belonged to the Argentineans, with their speed and positioning catching the Australian defenders out. Some resolute defence kept the Hockeyroos in the game and a timely opportunity to reset at the first quarter break was welcomed.
That momentum continued into the second quarter as Argentina led the way in circle entries (20-7), penalty corners (6-2), and shots (11-3).
However, Australia still had some tricks up their sleeve and fortune on their side, a late penalty corner was awarded and Jodie Kenny’s flick caught a deflection on its way into the goal.
The goal was a much-needed morale boost for the Hockeyroos, who went into the half time break with renewed belief and a tied scoreline.
The third quarter was a tight affair both teams creating scoring opportunities but some scrambling defence meant the teams were still tied at three quarter time.
Argentina continued to threaten with a number of penalty corners earned in the final term.
But the Hockeyroos’ defence held until the end of regulation, and the match went to a shootout just as it had done when the two sides met in Buenos Aires.
The shootout went to sudden death with Rosie Malone calmly slotting her second shot before Rachael Lynch denied the Argentinians for an historic Australian win.
“Gutsy performance from the girls and exciting to play in the final of the inaugural FIH Pro League,” said Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin.
“We are looking forward to another challenge.”
The final will be played at Amstelveen at 1:00am Sunday morning (AEST).
Australia 1 (Kenny 29’) - 4 (Malone O, Nobbs O, Kenny X, Peris X, Williams O, Malone O)
Argentina 1 (Jankunas 4’) - 3 (Rebecchi X, d’Elia O, Albertarrio O, d’Elia O, di Santo X, d’Elia X)