EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy, Women, Loughborough
HC Victorya Smolevichi v CSP Izmaylovo
The first match of the day at Loughborough University, temporary home of Leicester Ladies HC saw the side from Belarus take on the Moscow-based CSP Izmaylovo. In a one-sided game the Muscovites ran out easy 8-0 winners.
Izmaylovo’s first goal came in open play in the 3rd minute with Irina Kuzmina finishing in style. In the 18th minute that lead was doubled, a powerful drag flick at a penalty corner from the bustling Bohdana Sadova flying past Miastouskaya in the Smolevichi goal. Within four minutes the lead was 3-0; this time Yulia Frolova was the Izmaylovo scorer. That score was increased to 4-0 when influential play-maker Margarita Drepenkina drag flicked a penalty corner low and hard past the keeper. Drepenkina’s high work-rate, allied to great skills meant that she was running the game very effectively. With the side 4-0 up her coach gave her a breather and that was a bonus for Smolevichi.
The rest of the half was goalless but, back to full strength, it did not take the Russians long to add a 5th, Kuzmina notching her second at a penalty corner. Smolevichi did a good job of containing their opponents until the 61st minute when skilful forward Yulia Kazakova scored. There was still time for two more: captain Galina Timshina was on hand when a rebound from the keeper came back to her near the injection point and then Kristina Shumilina slid the ball home after the Smolevichi defence and keeper had been pulled all over the place.
The Russians had rarely looked troubled with composed defenders Timshina and Anna Guteneva always in charge. Drepenkina was excellent in midfield and all the forward players made excellent lead runs throughout.
Loreto HC v HC Metrostroy
It was the proverbial game of two halves between Dublin side Loreto and HC Metrostroy from St Petersburg in Russia. The Irish were fastest out of the blocks, taking the lead in the 8th minute with a fine finish from Niamh Small. The Russians sat back for much of the half in a half-court press and the Irish took keen advantage of this. They scored a well-worked second from a penalty corner in the 28th minute, a double slip taking the ball to captain Hannah Matthews who slapped the ball home. That lead was extended to 3-0 just on half-time, Small getting in to deflect the ball at a penalty corner over the Russian keeper Anna Pakhotnova.
The second half was different. HC Metrostroy competed all over the pitch, pressing high and not allowing the Irish easy passage out of defence. Irish composure began to flag with several ill-directed passes and it was Metrostroy on the front foot. It was no surprise when their excellent striker Marina Fedorova punished poor defending with a good strike in the 40th minute.
It was the Irish who now looked ragged and Metrostroy’s captain Olesia Petrova began finding big gaps to exploit. The Irish gave away several penalty corners and on the 58th minute Fedorova slid in to direct the ball past Louisa Healy who was having a fine game in the Irish goal.
Nerves were fraught in the last twelve minutes but Irish resolve held firm and they saw out the game for a 3-2 win.
CH SPV COMPLUTENSE V MSC SUMCHANKA
This first pool B match saw Complutense from Spain take on Sumchanka from Ukraine. The Spanish side, based near Madrid was quickest into its stride and took the lead when defender Lola Riera Zuzuarregui strode forward to launch an unstoppable drag flick at a penalty corner past Tetyana Stepanchenko in the Sumchanka goal. The Spanish kept up the barrage for much of the first half forcing further penalty corners but Lola Riera was kept at bay by defenders and keeper.
In warm conditions both teams began to flag and each seemed glad of the half time hooter.
The second half was much more even with, again, Complutense carrying a little more threat, especially when Lively Spanish U18 forward Lucia Jimenez was on the ball. She and fellow Spanish U18 forward Begona Garcia ran hard at the Sumchanka defence without creating clear chances.
At the other end the Ukrainian women struggled to find their rhythm although both Alona Shatokhina and Yana Sitalo flickered at times. Both teams played much of the second half looking to send long balls into their opponent’s half with forwards finding it hard to escape the shackles of good defending by both teams. The Spanish looked a little nervy towards the end, protecting such a slender margin but held on for a deserved 1-0 victory ahead of tomorrow’s match against host team Leicester.
LEICESTER V ROYAL ANTWERP
The first surprise in this game was the sparse nature of the Royal Antwerp squad; just twelve players were available for the Belgian side. It was Leicester who carried the game to their opponents from the start, forcing several penalty corners but Maartje Rabelink in the Antwerp goal was equal to the straight shots that Leicester came up with. It wasn’t until the 25th minute with Royal Antwerp cut to just 3 outfield PC defenders for breaking the line that Leicester introduced some variation. Hannah Fair played the ball at goal and Jo Hunter nipped in to deflect the ball past Rabelink. Royal Antwerp carried little threat going forward but Sofie Gierts was putting up quite a battle in midfield but lacked players to link with.
In the second half, Leicester continued to dominate with the Belgians often playing half court and letting Leicester knock the ball around at the back. Eventually gaps began to develop and on 50 minutes Leicester capitalised from another penalty corner. Slipped to Josie Inverdale, she moved it back to injector Vanessa Hawkins and the Leicester captain duly obliged.
Leicester expected Royal Antwerp to really come at them but they lacked ambition. Strong defending and goal keeping meant that Leicester could not score again but the Leicester defence was rarely troubled. Tomorrow they take on Complutense in the battle of Pool B winners.
16:00B C.H. SPV Complutense – MSC Sumchanka 1-0 (1-0)