Johannesburg, July 11 (IANS) The US women’s hockey team made a powerful comeback to score three goals in the final 20 minutes as they beat India 4-1 in their second Pool B match in the women’s Hockey World League Semi-Final here.
There was plenty of action in the first quarter with the US keeping India’s goalkeeper Savita busy at the post. They were awarded a penalty corner in only the second minute of the match but nothing came off that as Savita came up with an effortless save.
A smart referral call by Rani appealing that there was a back stick by the defender in her attempt to stop Rani from driving into the circle, saw India win their first PC. However, an innovative variation didn’t pay off as Deep Grace Ekka’s strike lacked the power to carry it past the keeper.
Almost immediately, India came close to scoring when Vandana brilliantly assisted by Rani made a diving effort to deflect the ball into the post. Though she got a slight touch on the ball, it wasn’t enough to convert. With less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter, US won their second PC but in vain as Savita came up with yet another great save.
India came up with an improvised attack in the second quarter as Rani managed to win the second PC in the 22nd minute. She showcased exceptional dribbling skill to beat two US defenders on the counter to find the foot of US defender in the D. But the chance to score went begging with stopper Monika miss-trapping the ball.
US however didn’t fumble when given a chance as Jill Witmer dispossessed Deep Grace to drive into the circle and beat Savita to score the goal in the 24th minute. Though India made a brilliant effort to equalise when Rani from the midfield sent a powerful pass to Vandana inside the circle in the dying minutes of the second quarter, the US keeper ensured they kept the lead with a great save.
While both teams traded PCs at the start of the third quarter, it was a quick-thinking Monika, dribbling into the circle, who found Lilima Minz positioned perfectly to deflect. Minz made no mistake as she scored the equaliser in the 38th minute.
Though India played on par with the higher-ranked US side in the first two quarters, the equaliser saw US change gears to put India under the burner.
Only two minutes later, a miscalculated attempt to defend on India’s part saw Taylor West (40′) score US’s second goal before Jill scored her second goal of the match when she perfectly deflected a dragflick to take the lead to 3-1 in the 43rd minute.
The final quarter saw US limit India’s chances in the striking circle with strong defence. The Americans continued to dominate with a fourth goal scored in the 49th minute. It was Michelle Vittese, who scored the goal from the top of the circle.
Though US won another PC in the dying minutes of the match, nothing came off it but it didn’t stop them from notching up their second win in the tournament.