India’s women’s hockey team recorded a clinical 4-2 victory over the United States in their first round match of the 2021/22 FIH Hockey Pro League in Rotterdam on Tuesday. Vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka (31′), Navneet Kaur (32′), Sonika (40′) and Vandana Katariya (50′) scored a goal each in India’s win, while Danielle Grega (28 ‘) and Natalie Konerth (45”) were the scorers for the United States.
It was a quiet start to the match, with both teams trying to create space in each other’s strike circle, but without causing much damage. It was the United States who launched the first real attack in the 10th minute when Megan Rodger’s run down the left flank earned itself a penalty corner but failed to convert it. Two minutes later, India also won their first penalty corner of the match, but Gurjit missed the chance to convert, ending the quarter in a 0-0 stalemate. The Indian team showed their offensive intent immediately at the start of the second quarter and had a chance to break the deadlock, but the American defense kept the ball away from goal. In the 21st minute, the United States got back-to-back CPs, but the Indian defense unit held the United States at bay. India reacted quickly and created potential scoring chances, but the USA defense once again nullified all attempts by their opponent. They even won their second penalty corner of the game but missed the conversion. The United States, on the other side, broke the deadlock with just two minutes remaining in the second quarter. An aerial ball from Erin Matso in the Indian circle found Danielle Grega in the right place and at the right time to deflect the ball into the net to give her team the 1-0 at the end of the second quarter. Trailing by one goal, India came out strong and scored two consecutive goals in the first two minutes of the second half. While vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka netted the equalizer in the 31st minute from a penalty corner, striker Navneet Kaur netted India’s second goal in the 32nd minute of the game.
The Indian team continued their momentum and earned a penalty corner in the 36th minute. However, Gurjit’s attempt was again blocked by the American line of defense. Slowly taking control of the proceedings, India then made it 3-1 through Sonika in the 39th minute. However, USA tried to fight back and their efforts were rewarded as they won a CP with just seconds left in the third quarter. It was Natalie Konerth who found the back of the net on the rebound to make it 2-3 at the end of the third quarter. USA started the last quarter aggressively and created a chance early on, but young keeper Bichu Devi steered clear of danger. Experienced striker Vandana restored India to a two-goal lead on the 50th-minute counterattack. USA, who weren’t giving up easily, got another CP in the 53rd minute but failed to convert it. The Indians took control of the game in the closing stages of the match to seal a clinical 4-2 victory in the end to cement their place in third place in the points table with 27 points. India’s women’s hockey team will face the United States on June 22 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. (ANI)
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