Bhubaneswar, Feb 7 (IANS): Defending champions the Netherlands added another victory to their haul while Australia dominated the United States in the Women’s FIH Hockey Pro League action at the Kalinga Stadium here on Tuesday.
The Dutch women were pushed all the way by an ever-improving Chinese side, however, to pull off their 3-1 victory. In the second match of the day, Australia dominated the USA, outgunning the Americans 3-0 for a return to winning ways.
The Netherlands struggled in the first half but found their rhythm to beat an excellent Chinese side. Both teams had scoring chances throughout but China were left to rue missed opportunities after executing their plans brilliantly in the first half to penetrate the Dutch centre channel repeatedly, only to have their finishing let them down.
Zhong Jiaqi did manage to put China ahead in the second quarter, however, skilfully flipping the ball off her reverse stick in front of the goalkeeper. But Freeke Moes equalised for the Dutch, turning onto her reverse stick and landing a perfect strike. Marijn Veen then put the Netherlands ahead after 25 minutes when a goalmouth scramble saw the ball popping to her for an easy tap-in. Although China kept playing positive hockey, they trailed 2-1 at half-time.
The Netherlands tightened up the centre channel in the second half and took more control, Moes giving them a welcome two-goal cushion after being allowed to run unchecked across the top of the circle before blazing her shot in. China did well in defence to deny the Dutch any penalty corner opportunities, but then failed to score from three of their own.
Australia completely bossed the USA in the first half of their 3-0 win, Tatum Stewart putting them ahead in the first quarter with a bulleted drag flick. Stephanie Kershaw extended that lead in the second quarter, fighting for possession against a pack of defenders before getting a clean shot away for a 2-0 advantage at half-time.
The USA were better in the second half, but Australia grabbed a third with Grace Stewart making an excellent deflection above her head as she moved across the goalkeeper. The Hockeyroos put themselves under pressure in the final quarter, receiving one green and two yellow cards, and with seven minutes remaining were reduced to nine players and facing a penalty stroke, but the USA failed to take any advantage as the clock ran down.