HOCKEY WORLD CUP : After a 1-1 draw with Spain, the New Zealand men scored their first points of the season in a shootout to earn a bonus point. Dominic Dixon made many crucial saves in the penalty shootouts, preventing Spain from scoring and therefore earning a bonus point. Maria Jose Granatto scored twice to help lead the Leonas to a 4-2 victory against the German ladies in front of a raucous crowd in Mendoza. After a scoreless regulation, the German men were victorious in a shootout, 4-3. Christopher Ruhr came up big in the clutch, scoring once in regulation and again in the shootout with penalty shots.
Match: (Men) Spain vs. New Zealand at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar (IND)
After a 1-1 draw in regulation time, New Zealand upset Spain in a shootout to win their first point of the season. It was a close game, with both sides forcing saves from each other’s world-class goalkeepers. By the conclusion of the third quarter, neither goalie had been able to make a save. Dominic Dixon and George Enersen, the goalkeepers for New Zealand, were outstanding, stopping a number of shots from the Spanish strikers. For Spain however, it took until the 47th minute before they finally got on the board, thanks to a rocket of a finish from Joaquin Menini.
While it seemed that Spain had won easily, a penalty stroke was awarded to the opposition after a mistake within the Spanish defensive circle in minute 60.
For his side to stay in the game, Kane Russell made all of his free-throw attempts. Dixon’s skills as a goalkeeper really shone during the shootout for the extra point after the game ended 1-1. Five efforts from the Spanish were blocked by Dixon, and the only goal scored by the Black Sticks came by Sean Findlay.
Simon Child, who returns to the Black Sticks after a six-year layoff due to a hip injury, was named man of the match and said that the team had a “very limited preparation heading into this competition” since several of its members were competing in other tournaments overseas. Therefore, we needed some time to adjust. The crew as a whole has had a difficult but ultimately rewarding learning curve. There is just a little amount of time left till we return for the World Cup. We want to rectify our past failures and improve for future competitions.
The game was described as “very difficult” by Spain’s captain, Alvaro Iglesias. We had a lot of penalty corners, but we couldn’t score on any of them. As a team, we must learn to adapt to new environments and circumstances. We made several careless passes that New Zealand picked off, and it ultimately lost us the game.
Estadio Mendocino de Hockey, Mendoza; Argentina vs. Germany (men’s and women’s) (ARG)
The Leonas have never been ones to turn down the chance to play in front of family and friends, and they certainly didn’t this time around. Maria Jose Granatto’s brace pumped up the already enthusiastic audience, and although Germany didn’t go gently, the Argentine ladies displayed a scoring masterclass.
Granatto’s one-timed strike after a lucky defensive deflection gave the Leonas the lead in the first minute, leaving Germany’s Nathalie Kubalski speechless. The Germans tied the game a few minutes later when Jette Fleschütz found a running Nike Lorenz. The skipper made his way across the Argentine penalty area and scored an equalizing goal with a backhand.
Kubalski made a fantastic stick stop to save a goal from Valentina Costa at the penalty corner flick in the second quarter. Over on the other end, Selin Oruz and Pia Maertens had a promising looking one-two combination, but Argentine goalkeeper Cristina Cosentino made a save.
In the 33rd minute of the third quarter, the atmosphere was electrifying when Jankunas fed Granatto off a penalty corner after a breakdown. The score was 2-1 in favor of the Leonas. For Germany, Charlotte Stapenhorst had an answer two minutes later. Stapenhorst coolly redirected the ball over the top to tie the game for Germany at 2-2 after Lena Michael’s deflection had set up the play. On a penalty corner for Leonas, Sofia Toccalino tied the game at three when her sweep deflected off Kira Horn and past Kubalski low. This placed Argentina back in the lead.
Germany was already in a precarious situation by the conclusion of the fourth when Amelie Wortmann was sent to the penalty box for five minutes. In the 55th minute, Argentina went up 4-2 when Eugenia Trinchinetti scored on a penalty corner deflection at the far post. There was a slew of penalty corners awarded to the Leonas. With two minutes remaining, things took an unexpected turn when a protective face mask was thrown at umpire Catalina Montesino, prompting the benched Bruce Bale to enter the game. Despite having their whole roster back, Die Danas nevertheless lost for the second night in a row, this time by a score of 2-0.
Trinchinetti, the game’s hero and winning scorer, reflected on the contest by saying, “I believe that we had a pretty wonderful game. After a slow start, we really started to play well in the third and fourth quarters. We played our hearts out for our team and our nation, and our performance on the field reflected that.
After the men’s game ended in a tie after regulation, the thrilling shootout ended in a 4-3 victory for the visiting Germans.
In the eighth minute, Germany took the lead with a goal from two consecutive penalty corners. Gonzalo Peillat had a first effort at a flick blocked by the reliable hands of Argentina’s Facundo Zarate, but his second attempt went between the legs of both Zarate and Tomas Santiago, giving Germany a 1-0 lead. Lucas Toscani answered for Argentina in the same quarter with a drag flick that equalized the score against Germany’s Jean-Paul Danneberg.
The second period was just as frenetic as the first, but neither side managed to score. At the 37th minute, the tie was finally broken. Following his suspension for a yellow card, Germany’s Christopher Ruhr slipped in behind the Argentine defense to deflect a stunning reverse-stick pass into the circle from Linus Muller, putting his team up, 2-1.
Niklas Bosserhoff’s breakdown tackle in the 41st minute knocked Germany to the ground, setting the tone for the rest of the game. In the 47th minute, Matias Rey tied the game by finishing off a penalty corner rebound that had previously rung off the post. With Mats Grambusch of Germany and Ignacio Nepote of Argentina sitting out for five minutes due to bans, the last quarter might have gone any way. Germany dominated possession, but their lack of decisiveness forced a penalty shootout.
Three goals were scored by Argentina’s Nicolas Keenan, Maico Casella, and Lucas Toscani, while Germany’s Niklas Wellen and Ruhr each scored one. After both Martin Zwicker and Thies Prinz had their penalty shots blocked by goalkeeper Nehuen Hernando, Ruhr was sent in to take care of business. With a final score of 4-3, Germany earned a bonus point.
Player of the Match Niklas Bosserhoff acknowledged how challenging tonight’s game was. On the field, we could feel the energy of the large audience rooting against us. A significant mental strength of ours was getting the draw at the end and winning the shootout. For the next games, we want to maintain that level of performance.
The Argentine player Maico Casella commented after the game, “I believe it was a terrific game for us. We held our own defensively and I thought we performed nicely. My opinion is that we still need more practice before we can be successful in shootouts. However, I think we did well for our first game.
Against 6 November, India will host the Spanish men, while Argentina’s men’s and women’s teams will take on Belgium in Mendoza. Both matches are part of the FIH Pro League.