Women’s Champions Challenge II – Day 1: India, Belarus, Ukraine and Ireland were all winners on Day 1 of the first Women’s Champions Challenge II tournament, being held in the Russian city of Kazan.
In Pool A, India fought back from being 1-3 down at half time to record a 5-3 victory over Belgium, scoring four unanswered goals in the process. India captain Surinder KAUR scored two penalty flicks for her side to give them the perfect start to the tournament. They are joined at the top of Pool A by Belarus, the world number 26 who produced a terrific performance to beat Canada 3-1. Canada – ranked seven places higher than their European counterparts – fell behind after just two minutes and never sufficiently recovered, with Belarus captain Volha SHYNTAR scoring a brace of field goals.
In Pool B, Ukraine came back from being a goal down to defeat Malaysia 2-1. An early strike from Nadia ABD RAHMAN put Malaysia ahead from the penalty spot before a field goal from Ukraine’s Nataliya VASYUKOVA tied the scores. The winning goal arrived in the 46th minute when Maryna VYNOHRADOVA scored from a penalty corner. The fourth and final match of the day was the clash between host nation Russia and Ireland, the second highest ranked team in the tournament. The match went to form and against the home side, with Ireland running out comfortable 4-0 winners to top Pool B on goal difference.
Full reports of the matches and scoring information can be found below.
The second round of matches will take place on Monday, with the action beginning at 10.00 (GMT +3). In the first match of the day, India will be hoping to continue their impressive start to the tournament when they face a Canada team looking for improvement. This is followed at 12.00 by another Pool A clash, as Belgium look to secure a much needed victory over the confident Belarus. In Pool B, Ireland and Ukraine face each other at 16.00, with Malaysia and Russia going head-to-head at 18.00.
You can find Pool Tables and Official Match Reports on the Champions Challenge II page of this website. To visit this page, click here.
Match 1: India 5 defeated Belgium 3
Pre-tournament favourites India got their tournament off to a flying start with a brilliant 5-3 victory over Belgium. The Europeans surged into a 3-1 lead before half time, but India produced four unanswered goals in a stunning second half performance, with team captain Surinder KAUR scoring a brace of penalty strokes.
Belgium were the dominant force in the opening stages of the contest, and deservedly took the lead after just four minutes of play when Charlotte de VOS struck from open play. That lead was soon doubled just three minutes later thanks to Sofie GIERST who found the back of the net from a penalty corner. India were stunned, but soon found their way back into the game when Rani RAMPAL scored a field goal to reduce the deficit in the 26th minute. However, Belgium re-established the two goal margin thanks to a penalty corner from team captain Valerie VERMEERSCH just two minutes before the end of the half. Despite the psychological blow of conceding just before the break, India began the second half with a clear intent to fight their way back into the contest. Their efforts were rewarded with two goals in three minutes to level the scores. The first goal came from the stick of Saba ANJUM in the 41st minute, before team captain Surinder KAUR scored the first of her two penalty strokes. India were in the ascendancy, and duly took a 4-3 lead in the 56th minute through Deepika THAKUR. Things went from bad to worse for Belgium two minutes later when Gaelle VALCKE was given a Yellow Card for deliberately stopping the ball with her foot. With Belgium reduced to ten players, India went in search of a fifth goal to seal the win, and found it when Surinder KAUR slotted in a well taken penalty stroke. It was an impressive comeback from India, who scored four unanswered goals to take maximum points from their opening encounter.
Match 2: Belarus 3 defeated Canada 1
Belarus captain Volha SHYNTAR was the hero as her team recorded a 3-1 win over Canada, a team seven places higher than them in the world rankings. SHYNTAR scored crucial field goals in the 32nd and 50th minutes of the match to give Belarus victory and move level on points with India in Pool A after one game.
It took Belarus less than two minutes to open the scoring, with Iryna KAZACHOK hitting the target from open play to shock their North American opponents. Canada gathered their composure and began to play some good hockey, but Belarus Captain Volha SHYNTAR added her name to the score-sheet with a field goal to establish a 2-0 lead in the 19th minute. Just two minutes later, Canada were reduced to ten players when Shannon ELMITT was given a Yellow Card for a deliberate high stick, but despite the player advantage Belarus could not add to the goal tally.
Canada were a much brighter team in the second half, and found a lifeline when Katie RUSHTON hit the back of the net with a field goal in the 42nd minute. However, Belarus re-established the two goal cushion when captain fantastic Volha SHYNTAR grabbed her second goal of the game. No further goals were scored, giving Belarus the perfect start to the Champions Challenge II and suggesting that they are a force to be reckoned with in this tournament.
Match 3 Ukraine 2 defeated Malaysia 1
In the opening match of Pool B, Ukraine fought back from being a goal down to win 2-1 against Malaysia. It was an excellent start to the tournament for Ukraine, who justified their higher world ranking with a strong performance against an under-rated Malaysia team.
The opening stages of the match were evenly contested, with both teams looking capable of grabbing an early goal. However, Malaysia were given a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the 17th minute when they were awarded a penalty stroke. Nadia ABD RAHMAN stepped up to the mark and fired her effort past Ukraine goalkeeper Alvina BUDONNA to give her team the lead. Ukraine worked hard to find an equaliser and were rewarded for their efforts in the 26th minute when Nataliya VASYUKOVA levelled the scores with a well-taken field goal. The scores were even at half time, but it was Ukraine who would strike the decisive blow in the second half thanks Maryna VYNOHRADOVA. Ukraine won a penalty corner 11 minutes after the break, and VYNOHRADOVA fired the ball into the goal to give her side the lead. Malaysia worked hard to find an equaliser, but Ukraine held on to claim all three points.
Match 4: Ireland 4 defeated Russia 0
Ireland brushed aside host nation Russia with a comprehensive 4-0 win which saw all of the goals arrive in the first half. Russia struggled to cope with an impressive Irish team that asserted their dominance on the match from the start and effectively won the contest before the second half had begun.
Ireland took the lead in the tenth minute of the match through Nikki SYMMONDS, who converted a penalty corner. Russia were reduced to ten players in the 19th minute when Evginia SOROKINA was given a Yellow Card, and Ireland were in no mood to let their opponents go unpunished. Lisa Jacob took full advantage of the weakened Russian team with a 22nd minute field goal to give Ireland a 0-2 lead. That lead was extended even further just two minutes later when SYMMONS scored her second penalty corner of the game. Russia worked hard to get into the game, but the Irish were dominant and soon added to their total thanks to a Lizzie COLVIN field goal just before half time. To their credit, Russia continued their efforts to get back into the match for much of the second half. However, a Yellow Card for Irena KUZMINA in the 59th minute all but killed off any chance of a Russian recovery.
It was a cracking performance from Ireland, who will now be considered by many as favourites to top Pool B.
Women’s Champions Challenge II Day 1:Scores & Scorers
Match 1: Pool A - India v Belgium 5:3 (1:3)
0-1 BEL Charlotte de VOS FG 4m
0-2 BEL Sophie GIERST PC 7m
1-2 IND Rani RAMPAL FG 26m
1-3 BEL Valerie VERMEERSCH PC 33m
2-3 IND Saba ANJUM FG 41m
3-3 IND Surinder KAUR PS 43m
4-3 IND Deepika THAKUR FG 56m
5-3 IND Surinder KAUR PS 61m
Match 2: Pool A - Belarus v Canada – 3:1 (2:0)
1-0 BLR Iryna KAZACHOK FG 2m
2-0 BLR Volha SHYNTAR FG 32m
2-1 CAN Katie RUSHTON FG 42m
3-1 BLR Volha SHYNTAR FG 50m
Match 3: Pool B - Ukraine v Malaysia - 2:1 (1:1)
0-1 MAS Nadia ABD RAHMAN PS 17m
1-1 UKR Nataliya VASYUKOVA FG 26m
2-1 UKR Maryna VYNOHRADOVA PC 46m
Match 4: Pool B - Russia v Ireland
0-1 IRL Nikki SYMMONS PC 10m
0-2 IRL Lizzie COLVIN FG 21m
0-3 IRL Nikki SYMMONS PC 24m
0-4 IRL Lisa JACOB FG 33m