Author: Nic Kerber
The Hockeyroos will appear at an 11th straight Olympic Games after booking their place at Tokyo 2020 with a resounding 5-0 win in the second and final qualifier against Russia tonight.
The result gave the Hockeyroos a 9-2 victory on aggregate to ensure they will join the Kookaburras in representing Australia at next year’s Games.
After a 4-2 win in the opening game yesterday, the overall result was decided inside the opening half of tonight’s second match as all of the goals came in the first 30 minutes.
Mariah Williams scored a brace while Grace Stewart, Sophie Taylor and Emily Chalker also got on the score sheet.
“I feel really happy for the girls,” said Head Coach Paul Gaudoin after the win.
“They worked really hard and it has been a massive year. We didn’t quite get there (against New Zealand) in Rockhampton but now we can focus our preparations on Tokyo.
“From here we’ve got to make sure we’re as prepared as we can be leading up to the Olympics.
“It was pleasing that we managed to finish off with some quality goals in the first half but our ball handling needs to get better as well as our fitness.”
After a string of early Hockeyroos penalty corners, Lily Brazel, in her 50th appearance, won yet another in the 9th minute.
The set play was well worked, Russian keeper Viktoriia Aleksandrina managing to save Renee Taylor’s drag flick but it fell to Stewart who was positioned perfectly to knock the ball home.
A great combination between Amy Lawton and Mariah Williams almost saw the latter score moments later but Aleksandrina came up with a fine save.
But Williams would not be denied in the 22nd minute when some good lead up work along the base line found the forward and she picked her spot and scored.
Three minutes later it was 3-0 when Chalker trapped and rolled the ball to Taylor from a penalty corner. Taylor took a touch to put herself inside the circle and struck a shot low and hard shot into the bottom right corner which gave Aleksandrina no chance.
The second quarter avalanche continued as Kalindi Commerford held the ball up well inside the circle before turning the ball across the goal and Chalker was unmarked at the far post to make it 4-0.
There was even time for a fifth before the main interval, an attack down the right ending with Williams whose speculative shot alluded Russian defenders and the oncoming Commerford to sneak over the line.
Russia provided more stubborn resistance in the second half as the Hockeyroos were restricted to fewer opportunities, while goalkeeper Ashlee Wells, who replaced Rachael Lynch for the final quarter, was called upon to make a sharp save in the final quarter to keep the visitors scoreless.
Pleasingly for Gaudoin, the clean sheet was another positive on a night the Hockeyroos overcame a challenging hurdle to now allows them to start looking ahead to Tokyo 2020.
With Olympic qualification achieved, the Hockeyroos players will now return to play with their respective Sultana Bran Hockey One teams for the league’s final round next weekend.
Hockeyroos 5 (Stewart 9’, Williams 22’/30’, S.Taylor 25’, Chalker 27’)
Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University, WA
Hockeyroos win 9-2 on aggregate and qualify for Tokyo 2020