Hockeyroos beat hosts

Posted on 25th Jun 2015 @ 4:21 PM

Hockey World League
Antwerp, Belgium
Pool B, Match 2

Jodie Kenny 9 (PC)
Karri McMahon 41 (PS)
Goals from defenders Jodie Kenny and Karri McMahon and the heroics of Ashlee Wells and Madonna Blyth helped maintain the Hockeyroos’ course towards the quarter finals of the Hockey World League as they overcame an energetic Belgian side in Antwerp.

Kenny’s early opener with a trademark top corner drag flick settled early nerves but it took Karri McMahon’s low penalty stroke conversion shortly before the end of the third quarter for Australia to earn true breathing space. 

The outcome might have been somewhat different but for a string of saves by goalkeeper Ashlee Wells on her 50th appearance and a stunning diving block by captain Madonna Blyth in front of goal on the day she matched Nikki Hudson’s record 303 appearances for the Hockeyroos. 

The result keeps the Hockeyroos in second place in Pool B, level with New Zealand on points but behind on goal difference. The trans-Tasman rivals meet on Friday morning (04:00am AEST).

Hockeyroos Head Coach Adam Commens was pleased with the outcome and the way his side had played. 

He said, “It’s a good start to the tournament. We knew Belgium would be a tricky opponent at home, particularly early in the tournament when they’re fresh, and to get the three points today was really pleasing.

“I think the girls were, once again, pretty spot on with their game plan. They stuck to it and executed it well. I thought maybe in the first ten minutes they struggled with it a bit. It’s something that we’ve done before but we haven’t played that way in a while. I thought as we got into the game we started to dominate. 

"In the second half we had many field scoring opportunities but unfortunately just failed to put it in the net at the final shot, but the build-up was really fantastic."

The best of the early opportunities fell to the hosts, who flashed a ball through the Australian circle before winning the game’s first penalty corner, which was well defended by Eddie Bone. 

At the other end it was Kenny that broke the deadlock with a rocket-propelled penalty corner flick that flew into the top right corner, an almost carbon copy of her opening goal against Poland on Sunday.

The second quarter saw six penalty corners awarded – four to Australia, two to Belgium - including one that Kenny saw rebound back off the frame of the goal, but defences remained on top and the Hockeyroos went in a goal to the good at the break.

The Hockeyroos were rewarded for an energetic start to the third quarter when Karri McMahon stepped up to convert from the penalty spot after Kathryn Slattery was tripped in the act of shooting. It was no less that Australia’s women deserved having seen Brooke Peris’ effort cleared off the goal line by Stephanie De Groof minutes earlier and an earlier save by Belgian goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooge.

Madonna Blyth then demonstrated the commitment that has epitomised her career as she threw herself full length through the air to deny a goal-bound Belgian shot as the hosts looked for an instantaneous reply.

Both sides created chances in the final quarter with Ashlee Wells most notably denying the hosts on three occasions.

Speaking about the influence on the match of Ashlee Wells and Madonna Blyth, Adam Commens added, “I thought Ash made some key saves and obviously Madonna’s save on the line…they’re match winning saves those types of saves. I think that epitomises Madonna’s commitment to the group. She played a pretty solid role throughout the midfield, as well. As the game went on she started to assert her influence on it.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s clash with New Zealand, Commens said, “Games against New Zealand are always really difficult. We’ll look to try and keep the same intensity as we did today. It’s going to be a challenge playing back-to-back games but we’ve done it before. It’s an opponent we know and each time we play it’s a pretty exciting encounter.”

Forward Georgie Parker missed the match with a virus.    

Source: Hockey Australia