Canberra: India won the title despite losing 1-2 to hosts Australia in their fourth and final match as they as they finished top of the points table of the three-nation Junior women hockey tournament here on Sunday.
India suffered their first loss but claimed the competition by topping the points tally – seven points from four matches-, ahead of hosts Australia on goal difference, with New Zealand finishing third with only three points from their four matches.
In a well contested match Gagandeep Kaur scored in the 53rd minute to cancel out Abigail Wilson’s strike in the 15th minute. However, the Australian youngster scored yet again in the 56th minute to give her team a 2-1 win.
It was a difficult first quarter for the India as they were constantly put under pressure by the hosts. The visitors had some chances but it was the hosts, who managed to take the lead when Abigail Wilson scored off a penalty corner.
India tried to make up ground in the second quarter, but some resolute defending by the home team meant that the visitors could not equalize inside the second quarter.
The Indians had a Penalty Corner in the 22nd minute, but could not force it on target. Another Penalty Corner for India in the 26th minute saw Australia’s Hannah Astbury make a diving save to help her team retain their one-goal lead.
Two minutes later, Australia had a glorious chance of extending their lead to two goals through a Penalty Stroke, but India’s Goalkeeper Bichu Devi Kharibam made a fine save to keep the score down to 0-1 at the half-time break.
A similar story unfolded in the third quarter with neither side able to score. Both the teams had chances through Penalty Corners in the third period, but some good defending by both the sides meant that the outcome of the match would be decided in the last period. India had a couple of Penalty Corners in the third period but were denied by Australia’s Astbury.
However, the start of the fourth quarter was different for India as they put the hosts under pressure from the start, and that resulted in the visitors winning themselves a Penalty Corner in the 53rd minute. It was India’s Gagandeep Kaur who stepped up to take the execution, and scored past Astbury to equalize for India.
But India could not stay on level terms for too long as three minutes later, it was Australia’s Abigail Wilson who scored her second goal of the match through a Penalty Corner to snatch a 2-1 lead. India tried to equalize for the second time during the remaining four minutes, but could not make the most of their chances as Australia registered a 2-1 win.