Skipper Savita Punia starred in front of the goal as India defeated Canada 3-2 in the shootout after both teams were tied 1-1 at the end of regulation time in their classification match of the FIH Women’s Hockey World Cup in Amstelveen on Tuesday. Madeline Secco (11th) handed Canada the lead before Salima Tete (58th) left it late to equalise for India. But it was Savita’s heroics in front of the goal that gave India their first win of the tournament. The Indian captain led from the front and pulled off as many as six saves in the shootout, while Navneet Kaur, Sonika and Neha converted their chances in the ninth to 16th place classification match.
Smarting from their disappointing loss to Spain, India started the match on an attacking note.
After soaking up the initial pressure from the Indians, Canada managed to put the ball into the India net, but it was disallowed as the referee awarded a penalty corner and Natalie Sourisseau’s attempt was off target.
Canada went one better a few minutes later as they won another penalty corner. This time the variation created confusion in the India defence, and Kathleen Leahy passed it to Secco for the final touch to stun the Indians.
India once again came out stronger in the second quarter and penetrated the Canadian defence on numerous occasions.
Monika, in particular, used her array of 3D skills to get past the Canada defence as goalkeeper Rowan Harris urged her team to maintain focus.
As the game moved towards half-time, India upped the ante.
Navneet Kaur, Neha and Vandana Katariya moved with freedom as Canada looked very much on the back foot.
In the 25th minute, Navneet and Vandana combined to create a fine chance but the shot was kept out by Canadian goalie Harris, as India trailed by a goal at half-time.
After the change of ends, India continued to pile on the pressure, with Lalremsiami making some speedy forays into the Canada circle.
But Canada held firm, with Sara McManus and Hannah Haughn displaying stellar performance at the backline to break down the India attacks.
India had a glorious opportunity to level the score just minutes into the third quarter but Navjot Kaur’s shot from inside the circle went over the bar.
Minutes later, Savita was called to the action as she made a brilliant save from a penalty corner to deny a second goal to the Canadians.
As has been the case in the tournament so far, India yet again cut a sorry figure with penalty corners. They earned back-to-back penalty corners in the dying minutes of the third quarter but failed to utilise the chances.
In the final minute of the third quarter, Lalremsiami’s diving attempt off Salima Tete’s pass from the right flank missed the target by a whisker.
Barring the early goal, Canada did not have much to show for in the match as the Indians completely dominated the proceedings, mounting attacks after attacks.
The Canadian defence was made to toil as India continued their relentless raids in the fourth and final quarter in search of the equaliser.
The Indians created numerous chances in the form of penalty corners but Gurjit Kaur failed to convert a series of set pieces. The shots had the usual power but they flew either wide or were chased down by Canada’s number one runner Sourisseau.
India’s persistence finally paid off when Salima Tete punched home a rebound after Gurjit’s flick from a penalty corner was saved by the Candian goalie.
Karli Johansen had one more chance to regain lead for Canada but her penalty corner shot went wide and the game went to shoot-out.
India will play Japan in the ninth-12th place play-off match on Wednesday.
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