The Hockeyroos will take on England for the women’s hockey gold medal at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games after prevailing in a tension filled penalty shootout against India.
With scores locked 1-1 at full time, the semi final came down to a shootout and the Hockeyroos showed exceptional composure and character to win it 3-0.
Goalkeeper Jocelyn Bartram, who was an unused substitute throughout the match, came in for the shootout to play a crucial part in sending the Hockeyroos through to the decider, while Rosie Malone, Kaitlin Nobbs and Amy Lawton showed nerves of steel to each convert their attempts.
The shootout was not without its share of drama. Malone took the first penalty and was unsuccessful, however she was made to retake it due to a technical issue as the eight second clock had not been visible on the big screen for her first attempt.
“When I finished my first shootout, because the clock didn’t start they couldn’t count it as an official shootout,” said Malone.
“Then when they recalled it I was thanking the universe for a second chance…and I was just thinking about my teammates and that final and said to myself I’m not missing it.”
“We have done a lot of work over the past year on being able to shift our mindset quickly, accept what happened and move on to the next thing.
“I think tonight was an example of how far our group has come.”
In a topsy-turvy contest that saw momentum swings throughout, the Hockeyroos were dealt an early blow when defender Karri Somerville was struck in the face by a ball in the 7th minute.
The 23 year old was taken from the pitch and would take no further part in the game. She did reappear on the bench in the second half and will be assessed ahead of Sunday’s gold medal match.
Starting in goal, Aleisha Power made a fine save low down to keep out an Indian penalty corner before the Hockeyroos took the lead in the 10th minute.
Mariah Williams delivered the ball across from the left with intent and Rebecca Greiner snuck in front of her marker at the far post to send it into the back of the net.
Renee Taylor, who was outstanding in defence, had a drag flick hooked over the bar on the goal line as the Hockeyroos almost had a second.
Power was again called upon to keep India at bay from a penalty corner midway through the second quarter as they continued to press forward.
Taylor produced a crucial tackle as India were away on the counter attack early in the second half, the Hockeyroos’ desperate and resolute defending on show again, highlighting why they had yet to concede a goal in the tournament
Claire Colwill came close to doubling the Hockeyroos’ lead late in the third quarter with a tomahawk that was saved by India goalkeeper Savita.
A succession of Hockeyroos penalty corners could not breach the India defence, Steph Kershaw
going agonisingly close as she thudded her tomahawk effort into the leg pads of Savita.
India then produced a counter punch and levelled up the match. A straight direct ball from three metres outside the circle caught the Hockeyroos defence by surprise, Vandana Katariya positioned next to Power to deflect it into the net from close range.
It was the first goal the Hockeyroos had conceded in 289 minutes at these Commonwealth Games.
Lawton flashed a shot on the reverse just wide from the left as the seconds ticked away.
The Hockeyroos had two penalty corners in the final minute but India’s defence was resolute and neither side could find a winner.
The penalty shootout ensued, and when Kaur Navneet saw hers and India’s third unsuccessful attempt in the shootout cannon off the post, it triggered wild Hockeyroos celebrations on the pitch as the Australians move through to the big dance.
“It feels amazing. We came here to play in the gold medal match, we want to play in the big matches, and it was a tough fight today but we got through it, so we’re refocusing now for Sunday and we’re going for the gold,” said Taylor.
“Finals are tough. They are never pretty matches and India are a tough team, so we knew we had to stick to our process, fight for 60 plus minutes and that’s what we did.”
“We’ve got a good group together. We’re unified, we’re sticking together and pushing for the same goal.”
The gold medal match is at midnight Sunday night AEST (3pm Sunday 7 August Birmingham time).
Hockeyroos 1 (Greiner 10’)
India 1 (Katariya 49’)
Hockeyroos win shootout 3-0
@ University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre
Hockeyroos: 1.Claire Colwill, 2.Rosie Malone, 4.Amy Lawton, 7.Aleisha Power (gk), 8.Georgia Wilson, 9.Shanea Tonkin, 10.Maddy Fitzpatrick, 12.Greta Hayes, 14.Steph Kershaw, 15.Kaitlin Nobbs, 18.Jane Claxton (c), 19.Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 20.Karri Somerville, 21.Renee Taylor, 24.Mariah Williams, 29.Rebecca Greiner, 30.Grace Stewart
Unused substitute: 6.Penny Squibb