India waited till the dying minutes of the game to hold Canada to a 1-1 draw in regulation time, and then pulled-off a 3-2 win in the shootout during their 9-16th place classification match at the FIH Women’s World Cup.
Both teams came to this match looking for their first win of the competition. For India, the disappointment of losing to Spain the previous evening looked to be hanging heavy on the minds of the athletes as they prepared for the first quarter.
After soaking up heaps of pressure from the fast-passing India forward line, Canada raced to the other end of the pitch and ended up with the ball in the back of the India net. Unfortunately the whistle had just gone for a penalty corner and Natalie Sourisseau was forced to adapt her attempt as the injection was just off target.
Canada went one better a few minutes later as they won another penalty corner. This time the variation created confusion among the India defence and after the ball pinged to Kathleen Leahy, she slipped it to Madeline Secco who got the final touch to put Canada 1-0 up.
At the start of the second quarter, it was again India who came out stronger. Monika Malik, in particular, was using her array of 3D skills to get past the Canada defence. Rowan Harris in the Canada goal was urging her team to maintain focus.
As the game moved towards half-time, India began to pour more energy into their attacks. Navneet Kaur, Neha Goyal and Vandana Katariya were now all moving with freedom and Canada were on the back foot.
After the break, India continued to pile on the pressure, with Lalremsiami making some speedy forays into the Canada circle. The North American side held firm though, with Sara McManus and Hannah Haughn putting in some serious shifts breaking down the India attacks. This was particularly impressive from Haughn, who only recently returned from an ACL injury.
With four minutes left in the third quarter, Canada were content to soak up the pressure and wait for the chance to break. For India, there was more frustration creeping into their game as they just failed to make the connections that would turn their much superior possession into an all-important goal. A penalty corner with two minutes left in the third saw a shot from Deep Grace Ekka which was well saved by Harris and another India chance came and went.
From a Candian perspective, the fourth quarter was exhausting and tense as the team withstood wave after wave of Indian pressure. As Navneet and Salima Tete started to really run at the Canadian defence, Karli Johansen, McManus and just about every member of the Candian team dug deep to protect their 1-0 lead.
For Gurjit Kaur there was added frustration when she was unable to convert a series of penalty corners. The shots had all the usual power but they flew either wide or were chased down by Sourisseau, the Canadian number one runner.
But the Indians’ persistence finally paid off when Gurjit’s penalty corner variation found Navneet, the injector and the cutback found Salima Tete, who was on hand to punch it home.
Karli Johansen had one more chance to re-take the lead but her penalty corner shot went wide and the game went to shoot-out.
In the shoot-out, Canada shot into a 2-0 lead and goalkeeper Harris made some crucial saves but India hauled them back to 2-2. After 14 attempts by the two teams, it was a classy finish from Neha followed by another super save by Savita that finally gave India the win and a place in the 9-12th place play-offs, where they will meet Japan - who earlier beat South Korean 3-2. Canada will now face the Koreans in the 13-16 place matches.
July 11 Results
Japan 3, Korea 2
Player of the Match: Yu Asai (JPN)
India 1, Canada 1 - India win 3-2 on shoot-out
Player of the Match: Kaur Navneet (IND)
India will play their last match of the tournament against Japan on July 13 at 20:00 hrs IST. The match will be broadcast live on the Star Sports First, Star Sports 3 and steamed on Disney+Hotstar.