The Indian women’s hockey team registered a clinical 4-2 win over the USA in their first of the two-legged FIH Pro League 2021/22 tie in Rotterdam on Tuesday. Vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka (31′), Navneet Kaur (32′), Sonika (40′) and Vandana Katariya (50′) contributed a goal each in India’s win, while Danielle Grega (28′) and Natalie Konerth (45′) were the goalscorers for the USA.
It was a quiet start to the match, with both teams trying to create space in each other’s striking circle, but without causing much damage. It was the USA who came up with the first real attack in the 10th minute when Megan Rodger’s run on the left flank earned themselves a penalty corner, but missed out on converting it. Two minutes later, India also won their first penalty corner of the match, but Gurjit missed out on converting the opportunity, thus ending the quarter at a 0-0 stalemate.
The Indian team showcased their attacking intent immediately at the start of the second quarter and had a chance to break the deadlock, but the USA defence kept the ball away from the goal. In the 21st minute, the USA earned back-to-back PCs, but the Indian defence unit kept the USA at bay. India responded quickly and created potential goalscoring opportunities but USA defence once again nullified their opponent’s every attempt. They even earned their second penalty corner of the match but missed out on converting it. The USA, on the other end, went on to break the deadlock with just two minutes left for the second quarter to end. An aerial ball by Erin Matso into the Indian circle found Danielle Grega at the right place and the right time to deflect the ball into the net to give her team a 1-0 at the end of the second quarter.
Trailing by a goal, India came out all guns blazing and scored two back-to-back goals in the first two minutes of the second half. While the Vice-Captain Deep Grace Ekka scored the equaliser in the 31st minute through a penalty corner, forward Navneet Kaur scored India’s second goal in the 32nd minute of the match. The Indian team rode on the momentum and earned a penalty corner in the 36th minute. However, Gurjit’s attempt was yet again blocked by the USA defence line. Slowly taking control of proceedings, India went on to make the scoreline 3-1 through Sonika in the 39th minute. However, the USA tried to fight back and their efforts got paid off as they won a PC with just seconds left for 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.
The USA started the final quarter aggressively and created a chance early on, but young goalkeeper Bichu Devi averted the danger. Experienced forward Vandana restored India’s two-goal lead on the counterattack in the 50th minute. The USA, not giving up easily, earned yet another PC in the 53rd minute, but failed to convert it. The Indians took control of the game in the closing stage of the game to seal a clinical 4-2 victory at the end to consolidate their spot at the third place in the points table with 27 points.
The Indian Women’s Hockey Team will take on the USA on 22 June in Rotterdam, Netherlands.