IRELAND 0:0 SPAIN (Spain win 3-0 in Shoot out)
Valencia, January 18: The first of the two Olympic qualification semi-finals in Women’s Hockey took place in Valencia this morning. Ireland (world ranked #13) finished second in Pool A and ended up playing Spain (world ranked #8) in the game.
Spain are very familiar opponents. Ireland regularly go to play Spain in warm weather training matches in January most years. And even though they were ranked 5 places higher at the time the match began, historically games between the two sides have been relatively close affairs.
Patricia Alvarez had the first shot in anger of the game for Spain which was blocked by Sarah Hawkshaw but Ireland went straight up the other end and won a long corner. And the was pretty much the pattern of a first quarter which was fairly even. The second quarter saw Spain start well and Blanca Perez had the first real chance after the restart but her cross cum shot whizzed across the face of the goal eluding everyone including her teammates. Ireland went on to dominate the second quarter in possession terms having several circle entries, Katie Mullan forcing a couple of saves out of keeper Clara Perez. One effort by Sarah Hawkshaw in the 23rd minute ended up bouncing off one of the umpires but play continued uninterrupted.
So, both sides went in at half time as they had begun Spain 0 Ireland 0. No stoppages, no injuries, no cards and only one penalty corner key stats from the first half. Spain started quarter three strongly. But there were no clear-cut goal scoring chances for either side until the final minute. At the end of the third quarter though it remained Spain 0 Ireland 0.
It was a landmark for Hannah McLoughlin who gained her 50th cap in this game. But the rest of the game had no clear-cut chances and it ended scoreless. There is no extra time in tournaments like these so both sides went straight to a penalty shootout.
First up for Spain was Laia Vidosa who missed 0-0. First up for Ireland was Róisín Upton who also missed still 0-0. Second up for Spain was Lucia Jiminez who put Spain 1-0 up. Next up for Ireland was Sarah Hawkshaw whose effort was saved by Clara Perez still 1-0 Spain. Third up for Spain was Julia Strapatto who put Spain 2-0 up. Next up for Ireland was Hannah Mc Loughlin whose effort was saved by Clara Perez still 2-0 Spain. Fourth up for Spain was captain for the Day Maria Lopez and she added another goal. Spain win 3-0.
Spain are in the Olympic games in Paris. Ireland will have to settle for the 3rd/4th place play off against the losers of the second semi-final between Belgium and Great Britain.
After the match we spoke to Head Coach Sean Dancer:
“We are really happy with how we played today. When a game goes to a shootout, it’s always a difficult way to lose a game.”
“Belgium have to take on Great Britain to decide who plays in the final and who we will play against on Saturday. We just need to focus on ourselves as we prepare for Saturday.”
“We are proud of how we defended. But we also dominated possession today and in attack. We created a lot of chances today, we just need to start putting more of them away.”
IRELAND: Ayeisha Mc Ferren, Róisín Upton, Niamh Carey, Sarah Hawkshaw, Katie Mullan (C), Hannah McLoughlin, Naomi Carroll, Ellen Curran, Charlotte Beggs, Katie McKee ,Beth Harper
SUBS USED: Sarah Mc Auley (4 mins), Michelle Carey (6 mins ), Sarah Torrans (7 mins ), Elena Neill ( 4 mins ), Chloe Watkins (5 mins ) , Deirdre Duke ( 7 mins) ; Liz Murphy (GK) [ mins]
SPAIN: CLara Perez (GK), Lucia Jiminez, Maria Lopez (C), Marta Segu, Constanza Amundson, Blanca Perez, Begona Garcia, Xantal Gine, Laia Vidosa, Alejandra Torres-Quevedo, Patricia Alvarez
SUBS USED: Laura Barrios (11 mins), Sara Barrios (4 mins), Belen Iglesias (4 mins), Lola Riera (7 mins), Beatriz Perez (5mins), Julia Strapatto (4 mins), Maria Tello (GK)