It was a mix of relief and delight for the host nation as South Africa defeated Ireland in a nervy Pool B clash that would decide who progressed to the quarter-finals.
If that match was edgy and goals hard to come by, the second match saw Netherlands go on a goal spree against Zimbabwe. Two weather interruptions couldn’t prevent the Netherlands showing their class when in attack. The 18 goals scored by the Dutch is a new record for a team at the Junior World Cup and beats the record the Netherlands themselves had set back in 1989 - also against Zimbabwe.
The third match of the day was a north American clash between Canada and USA. The USA had never beaten Canada in a Women’s Junior World Cup match sop there was a heightened sense of frisson as the teams took to the field. This was a day for history making though and USA’s 4-0 win was achieved on the back of some sparkling performances by the energetic USA team.
South Africa 1-0 Ireland (Pool B) – Potchefstroom, North-West University (RSA)
The delight on the faces of the South Africa team as the final whistle blew told the whole story. Although not the most convincing of victories, the host nation had sealed a spot in the quarter-finals.
The first half in this important match between the host nation South Africa and Junior World Cup debutants Ireland was spirited and fast-paced although both sides suffered from making multiple unforced errors. With England sealing top spot in Pool B, this match would decide who would join them in the quarter-finals and nerves were clearly having an impact on both sets of players.
It was South Africa who found the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time. The goal, by the highly influential defender Jean-Leigh du Toit, was from a penalty corner, earned after a good run by Cailynn Den Bakker drew a defensive error.
Ireland pushed hard after the break for the equaliser but it was South Africa who looked the more composed across the pitch and the more dangerous on the attack. Du Toit nearly added to her tally when a series of four well-worked variations on the penalty corner routine put the Irish defence under all sorts of pressure, which they weathered with gritty determination.
Ireland had a penalty corner opportunity with five minutes left in the match but the shot went agonisingly wide of Mishka Ellis’ goal post.
As the clock ticked down, the sense of urgency became palpable. Ireland’s Amy Elliot made a good run into the South Africa circle but was met by the excellent Ellis who was letting nothing past her.
Player of the Match, Jean-Leigh du Toit, said: ‘I am really proud of the goal. We gave it 100 per cent out there and matched Ireland. We would have wanted to score more but it was a good effort out there.’
South Africa Head Coach Denise Marais said: ‘We had a good first half but we allowed ourselves to face too much pressure in the final quarter. But we absorbed it, so I am happy with that aspect of it. We take the three points and we carry on.’
Ireland’s Sarah McAuley said: 'We’re very disappointed with this result. We had a few chances but didn’t put them away, whilst South Africa scored a pretty good goal. We have to convert our penalty corners. Now we need to try to get in the top 10.’
The result means Ireland will play Canada in the 9-15th place matches, while South Africa will have the dubious pleasure of meeting the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.
Netherlands 18-0 Zimbabwe (Pool A) – Potchefstroom, North-West University (RSA)
Two breaks in play due to stormy weather couldn’t prevent the Zimbabwe team falling before a goal-hungry Dutch team. In a match that saw goals in every quarter, the Dutch beat their own goal record at a Junior World Cup [also against Zimbabwe in 1989] and also saw three different players score hat tricks. The best efforts of Jenna Mathieson [in the first three quarters] and Lavender Mandoza [in the final quarter] in the Zimbabwe goal couldn’t stop an onslaught that began with Luna Fokke in the third minute and ended 17 goals later, with Mette Winter turning the ball neatly into the goal.
The best goal, in an avalanche of creative goals came from the stick of Maria Steensma. The ball was cleverly flicked high over the onrushing ‘keeper’s head by captain Rosa Fernig and Steensma was on hand to control and steer the ball over the line.
When Zimbabwe did start an attack the Dutch showed they were no slouches in defence either. The speedy Zimbabwe forwards, in particular Tinodiwanashe Elijah, were halted with crushing efficiency by the wall of orange shirts in midfield or defence.
Player of the Match Noor Omrani, who scored a hat trick of beautifully crafted goals, summed up the Dutch attitude towards winning. She said: ‘We said to each other, whatever happens, we need to keep going and keep pushing. Whatever the score is, we needed to keep going.’
For Zimbabwe’s Head Coach Tendayi Maredza, it was a tough day at the office but he was philosophical in defeat: ‘It is never easy and it was a tough lesson for us. I am proud of my girls. We need to keep fighting, learn from this and move forwards.’
His counterpart, the Netherlands Head Coach Dave Smolenaars, said: ‘We wanted to attack the circle and score as many goals as we could. But, our defence also had to stay strong as we didn’t want to concede anything.’
Asked about the successful Dutch press, Smolenaars said: ‘Our press is all about working together as a team and being convinced you can get the ball.’
Maria Steensma also scored three goals, Jip Dicke moved to the top of the goal-scorer’s list with four, there were two goals apiece for Luna Fokke and Josephine Murray and Kiki Rozemeijer and Tessa Beetsma also got onto the score-sheet.
The result means Netherlands will face South Africa in the quarter-finals, while Zimbabwe will be sure of a top 12 finish as pool B was a three-team pool due to the withdrawal of Ukraine.
USA 4-0 Canada (Pool A) – Potchefstroom, North-West University (RSA)
It was USA who drew first blood in the final match of Day 4 as Riley Donnelly showed real composure to turn and shoot in the eighth minute. Certainly the USA team started the game the strongest of these two Pan Am rivals. Canada knew they needed a good start if they were to have any hope of winning by the necessary margin and this showed in their tentative approach to the first quarter.
USA had a chance to double the score early in the second quarter but the Canadians breathed a sigh of relief as the USA team failed to capitalise on a golden chance to score.
Canada began to make their own chances as the quarter counted down. Their pressure won them two penalty corners. Lauren Wadas made a good save off the line for the first attempt and the second shot flew wide.
Canada continued to have the momentum and Allison Kuzyk unleashed a shot that would have flown into the back of the net but for some brave defending by the USA defensive unit.
Good running by Samantha McCory earns Canada a penalty corner in the final minute of the first half, but once again a resilient USA defence prevented Canada scoring a moral boosting equaliser.
Despite continued good build-up by Canada throughout the third quarter, it was USA who scored again. Caroline Ramsey was the beneficiary as her penalty corner shot was deflected into the net by a Canada defender.
One of the key components of the USA performance was the unrelenting energy of Ashley Sessa. The USA forward was ceaseless in her running and, had her teammates been on the same page, the lead could have been greater.
The fourth quarter saw Canada looking more desperate for a goal and a way back into the game. As a result, more opportunities opened up for USA. Lindsay Dickinson thought she had scored a third but her fierce shot hit the post.
The third goal for USA came minutes later. Charlotte de Vries topped a mazy dribble with a neat little through ball to Hope Rose. Rose snuck in front of the defender to pop the ball into the Canada goal, past the flailing kicker of Ishaval Sekhon.
The icing on the cake for USA came when Charlotte de Vries scored from a penalty corner with a straightforward and perfectly placed slap shot.
The result means USA will meet England in the semi-finals, while Canada will face Ireland in the 9th to 15th play-off.
USA’s goal scorer Hope Rose said: ‘I think we came out strong in this game, stronger than we thought we were going to. Second quarter, we scored and just went on from there. The quarter final against England will be a tough one. In the next few days we will focus on going at them with high intensity and high pressure and put them on the back foot.’
USA Head Coach Tracey Paul said: ‘I just told them [the players] to play smart and to stop playing soft hockey. This is an impressive young group and I think they are coming along quite well.’
Canadian Head Coach Jenn Beagan said: ‘I thought our press was effective for the first half and for much of the second half but you have to score goals. The simple thing that would have made the difference was that we couldn’t knock the ball in the back of the net.’
Play resumes tomorrow, 5 April, at North-West University, starting with Pool C’s Austria vs Korea and Argentina vs Uruguay. Pool D also returns after a day break with Malaysia playing India followed by Germany vs Wales.
From 1–12 April, the app will be live streaming all matches, everywhere in the world.
FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup South Africa 2021 – 2 April 2022
Potchefstroom, North-West University (RSA)
Result: Match 15
South Africa 1, Ireland 0
Player of the Match: Jean-Leigh du Toit (RSA)
Umpires: Kim Yoon Seon (KOR), Sophie Bockelmann (GER), Celine Martin-Schmets (BEL- reserve)
Result: Match 16
Netherlands 18, Zimbabwe 0
Player of the Match: Noor Omrani (NED)
Umpires: Maria Locatelli (ARG), Victoria Pazos (PAR), Gema Calderon (ESP -reserve)
Result: Match 17
United States 4, Canada 0
Player of the Match: Kathryn Peterson (USA)
Umpires: Rebecca Woodcock (ENG), Lisette Baljon (NED), Ilaria Amorosini (ITA-reserve)