Scots remain upbeat despite semi-final loss to USA
Scotland have taken the prestigious FIH Champions
Challenge tournament by storm with a four match unbeaten run this
week, but finally met their match when they went down 3-0 to the
United States in the semi-finals today in Dublin.
However, the Scots still have a chance of a medal to show for
their fantastic endeavours over the last seven days when they meet
Spain in tomorrow’s Bronze Medal match.
There was real confidence in the camp beforehand and the match
was preceded by another Scottish player celebrating a landmark
occasion. Linda Clement celebrated her 100th game as Scotland
captain and as a lone piper played the ‘Flower of Scotland’, the
Scots were spurred on and started the early stages of the match as
the more dangerous side.
A Vikki Bunce cross just eluded Holly Cram in the shooting
circle, while Nikki Kidd had a couple of efforts blocked by the
American defence. But gradually the USA clawed their way back
into proceedings and keeper Abi Walker, along with the excellent
Emily Maguire and Vikki Bunce had to look lively to keep a clean
The Scots then had the chance to take the lead when Kareena
Marshall won a penalty corner. However, Kidd`s initial drag flick
was blocked and her follow-up shot went wide of the target.
The Americans came out with all guns blazing in the second half
and again Walker performed heriocs alongside Maguire to keep the
scoreline blank. However, the Americans finally broke the
deadlock in 45 minutes through a goal from Shannon Taylor. They
were then reduced to ten players following a bad foul on Bunce, but
undaunted they went two up through a penalty conversion by Caroline
Nichols, which gave Walker no chance, after an illegal foot block
on the line.
The Scots retaliated and had a chance to pull one back, but
Bunce`s reverse stick shot went just wide of the post. The
result was sealed when Melissa Gonzalez made it 3-0 with a diving
finish. There was then a late chance for a consolation but
Kidd`s low set piece shot was blocked by the keeper.
Reflecting on the match afterwards in an interview with BBC
Sports Report, Head Coach Gordon Shepherd said:
“I was happy with the way we played in the first half and to be
level at half time was a reflection of how close the match was.
However, the USA showed their class and stepped it up after the
interval, scoring two good goals. It was an important match for us,
but I honestly felt Wednesday’s win against Azerbaijan was just as
important for getting us into the top four and avoiding the bottom
Indeed, it was a courageous effort by the players today, given
that the USA are ranked eight places above them in the
international rankings, and as Shepherd was quick to outline, the
team has surpassed everyone’s expectations:
“These teams are used to playing consistently at this high level
and we should be proud of our efforts this week. We came into the
competition as the lowest ranked team and now have a bronze medal
match against Spain tomorrow. If you’d offered me that last week, I
would have taken it straight away.”
Scotland will play Spain at 2pm tomorrow afternoon and you can
follow the match online with Hook Hockey.
For more information about the compeition, please visit the FIH Champions Challenge website.
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