News for 18 November 2013

All then news for Monday 18 November 2013


Hockey Africa Cup of Nations attracts five top countries

By ELIZABETH MBURUGU



National team player Brian Saina dribbles the ball away from Kenya Police’s Oliver Echenje during a friendly match at City Park Stadium last week. [PHOTO: JENNIPHER WACHIE/STANDARD]

There will be renewed rivalry at the Nairobi City Park stadium today as Kenya women team take on defending champions South Africa in the battle for the hockey Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

At stake is the sole ticket to represent Africa at the World Cup in The Hague, the Netherlands, in June.

Later, the men will battle against giants Egypt. Winners of this tournament in both categories will be Africa’s sole representatives to next year’s World Cup.

The tournament has attracted five countries – South Africa, Egypt, Tanzania, Ghana and hosts Kenya.

The local girls will be seeking South Africa’s scalp to avenge their loss during the qualifiers for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Kenya team assistant coach Wycliffe Ongori is confident his charges are up to the task.

“We are not out to prove a point but we will surely give them a run for their money,” he said.

The two teams met in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where Kenya could not stand the heat generated by the South Africans’ defence.

Bitter loss

Kenya was routed 9-0 in the preliminaries and later went down 5-0 in the finals.

“We were close to the Olympics but they stopped us. They should not expect the same here at home. The team they played in Bulawayo is gone. This is a new team,” Ongori added.

Betsy Ommala, the team captain, who led her charges to the 2012 club championship victory with Telkom, is also confident about the current Kenya team.

“We have the best team made up of Kenya’s most seasoned hockey players. We are all committed and ready for the task ahead of us,” she said. “We will give them a good fight.”

The men’s national team head coach Meshack Senge is also buoyant regarding his team’s prospects.

“I believe I have done a good job with the team. We are all focused and ready. Kenya will be going for nothing less than victory,” he said.

Lost focus

Kenya team attacker Davis Wanangwe was in the team that drew 3-3 with Egypt in Bulawayo. He blamed the draw on a blip in their game, adding that they have since learnt from their mistakes.

“Ten minutes to full time we were leading 3-1 – it was our victory. We lost focus and paid dearly,” he said.

Senge, however, expressed caution about the over-confidence that the South Africans have coming into the tournament.

“We should be judged after the tournament, not before,” he said.

Defender Brian Saina, who is debuting on the team, said he was out to make Kenya proud.

“I am honoured to represent this country. It is a huge responsibility and I will give it my best shot,” he said.

National team assistant captain Richard Birir will lead the team in the absence of captain Zack Aura.

Other matches of day one will see Ghana’s women take on Tanzania before the Ghanaian men battle it out with champs South Africa.

The top two teams in the men’s and women’s groups will meet in the final on Saturday.

The Standard Online



Kenyan teams seek trip to Hague

By Ayumba Ayodi



National women’s hockey team’s Barbara Simiyu trains at City Park on Wednesday. The team plays South Africa in a World Cup qualifier Monday. PHOTO/MARTIN MUKANGU

The Hague, Netherlands, is popular for being the seat of the International Criminal Court, the body which prosecutes cases of crimes against humanity.

However, the city will be on the lips of many in the coming week for a different reason as Africa’s finest battle for the two slots at the 2014 hockey World Cup in The Hague.

“We are determined to win this tournament and go to The Hague in May next year,” said a confident Kenya men team coach Meshak Senge as he took his charges through their final training session ahead of their opening match against two-time champions Egypt today at 10am.

Kenya women’s team were also exuding confidence as they seek to halt South Africa’s dominance from 12pm. Senge, a fearless former international defender, said his side is ready for the Pharaohs. “All systems are ready and the pistons are charging for the qualifications slot,” Senge said.

“For sure this is the squad that will take us to The Hague and back to where we belonged in the 70s.”

Kenya last participated at the inaugural World Cup in 1971 in Barcelona, Spain while Egypt, who won the 1983 and 1989 Africa Cup of Nations, last featured on the world stage in 1990 in Lahore, Pakistan. South Africa, who have represented Africa at the Worlds in the last five editions, kick-off their campaign against Ghana at 4pm today. South African have won the last six editions of the Africa Cup of Nations, in 1993, 1996, 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2011, while Ghana won in 1974. Senge’s deputy, Inderjit “Coolly” Matharu, said his team knows the magnitude of the event. “They know our target and are also aware that every team is a threat,” said Matharu.

Long wait

Skipper Richard Birir noted that four decades was a long wait hence they are keen on going to The Hague. “Sidepieces have been our main undoing but we’ve worked on them and we hope we shall convert more of our penalty corners,” said Birir.

Senge and Matharu have their hopes on among others, Birir who will marshal the defence alongside Kenneth Nyongesa and veteran Willis Otieno. Upfront will be Italy-based Barnabas Odhiambo, George Mutira, Davis Wanangwe and Moses Cheplaiti.

Egypt is almost a new outfit from the side that drew Kenya 3-3 during the 2011 Africa Cup of Nations in Zimbabwe. Egypt coach Ali Shorbagy said 11 of his regular players have retired.

Kenya women’s captain, Betsy Omalla said her charges ready for kick-off. Kenya women’s team has reached the final twice against South Africa in 1998 and 2011, but lost with an identical 5-0 margin. “Morale is high and we want to cash on home advantage to win,” said Omalla.

Fixtures: Men: Monday: Egypt v Kenya (10 am); South Africa v Ghana (4pm). Tuesday: Egypt v South Africa (2 pm);  Ghana v Kenya (4 pm). November 21: Ghana v Egypt (2 pm); South Africa v Kenya (4 pm). November 22: Play-offs. November 23: Final.

Women: Monday: South Africa v Kenya (12pm); Ghana v Tanzania (2pm). Tuesday: Kenya v Tanzania (10am); Ghana v South Africa (12pm). November 21: South Africa v Tanzania (10am); Kenya v Ghana (12pm). November 22: Play-offs. November 23: Final.

Daily Nation



Co-captain Lenise Marais out of Africa Cup

JONATHAN COOK

THE co-captain of the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team, Lenise Marais, is out of the Africa Cup hockey tournament that starts in Nairobi Monday.

Marais, a teacher, was unable to get leave and her co-captain, Marcelle Keet, takes over as skipper with Sulette Damons her deputy.

The SA women play Kenya at 11 am SA time Monday at the City park Stadium while the SA men tackle Ghana at 3 pm.

SA HOCKEY TEAMS FOR AFRICA CUP

South Africa Men's hockey team:
Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Jacque le Roux (Western Province), Rhett Halkett (vice-capt, WP), Francois Pretorius (Northern Blues), Greg Last (KZN Coastal Raiders), Jethro Eustice (SG), Dylan Swanepoel (WP), Mohamed Mea (KCR), Austin Smith (capt, WP),  Jonty Robinson (NB), Clint Panther (SG), Wade Paton (KCR), Taine Paton (KCR), Tim Drummond (KCR), Julian Hykes (SG), Geoff Abbott (KCR), Pierre de Voux (WP), Lloyd Norris-Jones (WP). Head coach: Charlie Pereira.

Investec South Africa Women's hockey team:
Hanli Hattingh (WP), Phume Mbande (NB), Marcelle Keet (capt, Border), Lisa Deetlefs (SG), Illse Davids (WP), Celia Evans (North West), Shelley Russell (WP), Kaila Flemming (SG), Quanita Bobbs (WP), Sulette Damons (vice-capt, NW), Christine Roos (SG), Jade Mayne (WP), Bernie Coston (SG), Tanya Britz (Free State), Lilian du Plessis (NB), Izelle Lategan (FS), Kelly Madsen (KCR).
Head coach: Fabian Gregory.

SA FIXTURES
(SA times)

Investec SA Women

Mon, Nov 18: SA vs Kenya (11am)
Tues, Nov 19: SA vs Ghana (11am)
Thurs, Nov 21: SA vs Tanzania (9am)
Fri, Nov 22: Bronze medal match (12 pm)
Sat, Nov 23: Gold medal final (12pm)

SA Men

Mon, Nov 18: SA vs Ghana (3pm)
Tues, Nov 19: SA vs Egypt (1pm)
Thurs, Nov 21: SA vs Kenya (3pm)
Fri, Nov 22: Bronze medal match (2.30pm)
Sat, Nov 23: Gold medal final (2.30pm)

SA Hockey Association media release



H.C. Rotterdam to host FIH Masters World Cup 2014

Tournament will run simultaneously with the Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague




It has been announced that H.C. Rotterdam, one of the biggest hockey clubs in the Netherlands, will host the second FIH Masters World Cup 2014.

The tournament - which take place simultaneously with the Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague - will see legendary players of the past battling it out for the respective titles in the 40+, 45+, 50+, 55+ and 60+ age categories at Rotterdam's world class venue.

It’s expected that around seventy national teams and with over one thousand players will participate in the FIH Masters World Cup 2014, which will take place between 5-13 June.

The event is being organised by the KNHB (Royal Dutch Hockey Association) in close cooperation with the International Hockey Masters Association and the host club. Participation in the tournament is only possible through national masters organisations.

"It’s a great honour for Hockey Club Rotterdam to host this fantastic event,’’ says Edwin Brouwers, president of Hockey Club Rotterdam. "The FIH Masters World Cup will highlight not only our club, but also the city of Rotterdam.’’

More information about the tournament can be found on the event website - www.mastershockeyworldcup2014.com

FIH site



OZ defeat Rotterdam to take charge of Hoofdklasse

NETHERLANDS: Oranje Zwart have moved into the driving seat in the Netherlands’ elite Hoofdklasse division by recording a fine away win at previous league leaders and fellow EHL representatives H.C. Rotterdam.

The team from Eindhoven – who will play host to next Easter’s sensational Euro Hockey League KO16-Final Four double event – won the match 2-0 with goals from Jelle Galema and Rob Reckers (pictured).

The result took OZ onto 28 points from their 12 matches, one point clear of Rotterdam and HGC, who were 6-0 winners against Hurley.  Fourth placed Kampong are on 26 points having drawn 2-2 with Amsterdam H&BC, with Roderick Weusthof scoring both of the goals for the current EHL competitors.

2012-13 EHL champions HC Bloemendaal currently sit in fifth place on 25 points thanks to a 2-1 away victory over Pinoke. Amsterdam H&BC are a point further back in sixth place.

The race to finish league top scorer is currently being headed by OZ and Netherlands penalty corner ace Mink van der Weerden, who has netted 22 goals in 12 matches. Bloemendaal and Belgium star Tom Boon is second in the running with 19 goals to his name, while EHL all-time top scorer Jeroen Hertzberger is third with 15.

More information about the Hoofdklasse can be found at Hockey.nl

Euro Hockey League media release



Cannock win shootout with Reading


Reading's John Jackson

Cannock secured a dramatic penalty shootout win over NOW: Pensions Division rivals Reading in the third round of the NOW: Pensions Cup on Sunday.

Cannock had taken the lead through David Beckett only for Reading’s Pete Scott to level the scores straight from the restart.

Robbie Smith netted a second for Cannock but Scott once again tied the scores. Cannock looked to have won it as Stuart Loughrey added Cannock’s third with just two minutes remaining.

But in the final minute John Jackson (pictured) scored an equaliser for Reading, making it 3-3 and the game headed for penalties, which Cannock won 5-3.

Beeston faced Teddington in the Cup and secured a 6-3 win to book their place in the next round.

Fareham were hoping to claim a Premier Division scalp as they took on Hampstead and Westminster. But a Neil Hamilton brace dashed their chances, and Duncan Parniss was also on target for Hampstead as they won 3-1.

A Peter Dobson penalty stroke proved to be the difference between Bromley and Beckenham and University of Birmingham, with the Kent side winning the game 2-1.

A brace from Brooklands MU’s Aiden Khares took his side through to round four as they ran out 4-1 winners over Cambridge City.

Johan Casparsson also hit two as Sevenoaks beat Bowdon 4-2. Bart Zywkzka was unlucky to be on the losing side having also scored twice.

Cannock weren’t the only team to go through on a penalty shootout - Oxted’s game against Holcombe also ended 3-3. But it was Oxted who held their nerve, winning the shootout 6-5.

NOW: Pensions Men’s Cup, round three (Sunday, November 17 2013): Bromley and Beckenham 2 Univ of Birmingham 1; Brooklands MU 4 Cambridge City 1; Cannock 3, Reading 3 (Cannock win 5-3 APS); Hampstead and Westminster 3, Fareham 1; Lewes 1, Old Loughtonians 2; Oxted 3, Holcombe 3 (Oxted win 6-5 APS); Sevenoaks 4, Bowdon 2; Teddington 3, Beeston 6.

England Hockey Board Media release



Battling Bowdon Hightown go down to Reading


Alex Danson (L) and Lisa Crewe tussle for the ball. Photo by Roger Evans

Bowdon Hightown held leaders Reading to a goalless draw until half time, but two second half strikes gave Reading another win in the Investec Women's Hockey League Premier Division on Sunday.

Alex Danson (pictured, battling with Bowdon's Lisa Crewe) broke the deadlock with a 37th minute strike, before Becky Halle doubled their lead three minutes later.

Canterbury battled back from a one-goal half time deficit to beat rivals Clifton 3-2 in the Investec Women’s Premier Division on Sunday.

Jo Leigh’s 19th minute goal gave the visitors the lead at Polo Farm, and they retained the edge until the second half.

Nikki Kidd pulled Canterbury back level with a 43rd minute strike from a penalty corner, and three minutes later an own goal gave them the lead.

Kidd’s second goal came from a penalty stroke on 62 minutes, and although Clifton managed to pull one back through Zoe Leach on 69 minutes, Canterbury held out for the win.

Surbiton climbed up to third in the table after they beat hosts Beeston 6-2. They were four goals up at the break thanks to Sandra Frankland, Giselle Ansley, Sarah Page and Sarah Haycroft.

Second half strikes from Ansley and Vicky Bryant sealed the win, while Beeston’s goals came from Phoebe Richards and Lottie Porter.

University of Birmingham beat hosts Sutton Coldfield 2-1 thanks to goals from Hannah Martin and Jo Turnbull, while Jane Sixsmith scored the home side’s goal.

And Leicester cruised to an 8-1 win over bottom of the table Olton and West Warwickshire. Katie Long scored a hat-trick and Hannah Fair added two in the win, which moves Leicester up to fourth.

Slough’s lead at the top of the Investec Conference West was cut to just one point as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Swansea, who scored in the 70tyh minute to salvage a point.

With Buckingham winning 3-0 at Gloucester City, they are now just one point behind Slough.

Wakefield maintained the lead in the Investec Conference North thanks to a 2-1 win over Whitley Bay and Tynemouth. Sally Walton scored both their goals.

And rivals Brooklands Poynton won 2-0 against Kendal, while former leader University of Durham could only draw, 1-1 at Stourport.

St Albans beat leaders Holcombe 2-1 in the Investec Conference East, with goals coming from Sarah Embrey and Natasha Humphris.

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Sunday, November 17 2013):

Investec Premier Division:
Beeston 2, Surbiton 6; Bowdon 0, Reading 2; Canterbury 3, Clifton 2; Leicester 8, Olton & West Warwicks 1; Sutton Coldfield 1, University of Birmingham 2.

Investec Conference East: East Grinstead 2, Harleston Magpies 1; Holcombe 1, St. Albans 2; Ipswich 1, Old Loughtonians 1; Sevenoaks 2, Horsham 1; Wimbledon 1, Chelmsford 1.

Investec Conference North: Boots 2, Loughborough Students 2; Brooklands Poynton 2, Kendal 0; Doncaster 1, Ben Rhydding 2; Stourport 1, University of Durham 1; Wakefield 2, Whitley Bay and Tynemouth 1.

Investec Conference West: Barnes 2, Exe 0; Bristol Firebrands 0, Oxford Hawks 4; Gloucester City 0, Buckingham 3; Isca 7, Trojans 1; Slough 2, Swansea City 2.

England Hockey Board Media release



Incensed hockey fans invade pitch over match flare-up

Inflammatory taunt during highly-charged clash between Khalsa and Punjab sparks outrage from more than 100 supporters of the sides

Alvin Sallay



A Khalsa player (right) tries to calm down irate fans during a pitch melee at Happy Valley on Sunday. Photo: Edward Wong

It wasn't just two fingers. Harpreet Singh used his whole right fist to celebrate a successful short corner he converted to give Khalsa the lead for the first time - but his gesture inflamed the Punjab fans who took exception at the perceived insult and they stormed the pitch.

It was all-out action at Happy Valley on Sunday with the best, and worst, of Hong Kong hockey on show. Even big-name star Sohail Abbas, who finally broke his Hong Kong duck by scoring off a trademark short corner for Punjab, was overshadowed by the antics of Harpreet, one of 14 Singhs on the roster of both teams.

The Singh against Singh show luckily ended with the best possible result, a 3-3 draw, for that at least placated the fans of both teams. Otherwise the taunt might have been more costly to the image of the local game.

It came when the highly-charged game was evenly poised following Khalsa's superb comeback after trailing 2-0 at the break - Abbas and Sukhwinder Singh on target for Punjab - drawing level with two deflected goals from Enis Ahmed and Ahmed Ishtiar.

Overseas signing Harpreet, playing only his second game for defending league champions Khalsa, converted a controversial short corner awarded to Khalsa, and then ran towards a section of Punjab fans and pumped his fist in rabble-rousing fashion.

It was like waving a red flag in front of a bull and the Punjab fans reacted. More than a 100 people - supporters from both teams - ran on to the pitch in a full-fledged invasion, one side baying for the blood of the offender, the others trying to shield him.

Officials tried desperately to defuse the situation and it took them almost 10 minutes to restart the game. Surprisingly, Harpreet - the instigator of all the trouble - remained on the pitch.

"We decided not to give him a yellow card for we felt that would only inflame the situation and that wouldn't have been helpful to anyone," said umpire Duncan Mackay.

In front for the first time in the match, Khalsa kept pressing, but the first meeting between the two top teams this season ended in a stalemate when Gurjant Singh knocked in a goal right at the death to allow Punjab to escape with a draw.

A senior official of the Hong Kong Hockey Association, Billy Dillon, who was at the match, said the "deplorable incident" would be investigated and the executive committee would take action.

"Fans running on to the pitch is very bad for the image of the game," Dillon said. "We will investigate it fully and take appropriate action."

An incensed Punjab captain Sunny Bali, angry over the decision to award the penalty corner that resulted in the goal and the subsequent inflammatory celebrations, called for the book to be thrown at Harpreet.

"He brought the game into disrepute and he should be punished," Bali said. "In the first place, it was a piece of bad umpiring. That short corner should never have been given in the first place. Sohail Abbas was penalised for something even he couldn't fathom and the penalty was awarded. We were robbed of victory by poor umpiring."

Khalsa manager Gurcharan Singh said he did not condone the actions of Harpreet, who had been the victim of verbal abuse from Punjab fans. "He had been getting a lot of stick from fans and perhaps he reacted a bit strongly. But we have spoken to him and it will not happen again."

South China Morning Post



Despite trailing twice in first half, Maryland marches to semifinals


Maryland advanced to its sixth consecutive national semifinal. Maryland Athletics

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Top-seeded Maryland advanced to its sixth consecutive national semifinal on Sunday with a 3-2 win against Princeton at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex.

ACC Offensive Player of the Year Jill Witmer scored twice, once to tie and once for the lead, to send Maryland (22-1) to its 17th overall semifinal and 16th under head coach Missy Meharg. The Tigers (14-5) led twice in the first half, until Witmer and the Terrapins took control just before the break.

“We’re exceedingly excited to move on,” Meharg said. “We’ve been talking about advancing and every single game, we’ve been talking about advancing our game. I’m very proud of the all of the women for finding a way to beat a very talented, very experienced, defending national champion Princeton team.”

Princeton struck first off of a penalty corner 90 seconds into the match. Sydney Kirby sent in the first goal of the afternoon on a deflection.

Maryland answered back off its first penalty corner less than four minutes later. Sophomore Anna Dessoye deflected in senior Ali McEvoy’s shot off the set play for the equalizer.

The teams battled through the rest of the period. With 33 seconds to go in the first half, Princeton’s Allison Evans sent in a high, hard shot from the right side of the circle for a 2-1 lead.

Less than 30 seconds later, Witmer dribbled into the Terps’ offensive circle herself and scored through multiple defenders to tie it with six seconds to go before halftime.

Just more than three minutes into the second half, sophomore Alyssa Parker fed Witmer for the Terps’ first lead of the day. Parker had a look herself, which was blocked by the Princeton keeper, then dished it to Witmer for a quick shot from the right post.

Maryland outshot Princeton 14-9, and each team had four penalty corners.

The Terrapins will play Duke (16-6) at 2 p.m. Friday in Norfolk, Va. in the NCAA semifinals.

NCAA



North Carolina heads to national semifinals for fifth year in a row


North Carolina's appearance in the national semifinals will be the 18th in program history. North Carolina Athletics

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- For the fifth year in a row and the 18th time in program history, third-seeded North Carolina has earned a spot in the national semifinals. The Tar Heels defeated Wake Forest 5-2 on Sunday in an NCAA tournament second-round game at Francis E. Henry Stadium to advance to the NCAA semifinals. Carolina will face Connecticut on Friday in Norfolk, Va., on the campus of Old Dominion.

The Tar Heels are now 18-5, while the Demon Deacons finished their season at 12-9. UNC is one of three Atlantic Coast Conference teams to make the semifinals, along with top-seeded Maryland and fourth-seeded Duke. UConn advanced by beating Michigan State, which scored a first-round upset against second-seeded Syracuse, the fourth ACC team hosting first- and second-round games this weekend.

"I'm excited for our Tar Heels to be going to the final four," UNC coach Karen Shelton said, who is in her 33rd year with the program and has coached the Tar Heels to six NCAA crowns. "It never ever gets old and it's never easy to get there."

Sunday's game was the third meeting of the season for UNC and Wake Forest. Carolina had won the previous two 4-2 in the regular season and 3-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals just more than a week ago -- but it was Wake that got out front first on Sunday, just 1:50 into the game. The Demon Deacons drove into the circle, where UNC keeper Sassi Ammer saved the first shot, by Kari Walkley. But Taylor Rhea gathered the rebound and got the ball past Ammer to put WFU up 1-0.

The visitors held the lead until the ninth minute of play. On UNC's third penalty corner of the game, sophomore Nina Notman tied the score with her 14th goal of the season, assisted by sophomore Emily Wold and graduate student Janne Grove.

The game stayed knotted at 1-1 for about 22 minutes, but in the 31st minute Notman struck again with the game winner. On a penalty corner, UNC's initial shot was saved, but Notman grabbed the rebound on the right side and put it back for a lead Carolina would never give up.

The 2-1 advantage held until the 46th minute of play, when Notman sent a hard ball into the circle and freshman Lauren Moyer got a quick deflection in front of the goal to put UNC up 3-1. Just more than three minutes later the Tar Heels struck again, using sharp passing and teamwork. On the run, sophomore Casey Di Nardo passed the ball to junior Charlotte Craddock, who gave it right back and put Di Nardo in perfect position to score her 14th goal of the season.

With the Tar Heels up 4-1, Wake drew its first penalty corner of the game in the 56th minute. Jess McFadyen deflected in a shot from Anna Kozniuk to draw the Demon Deacons within two, and Wake immediately called a timeout. Less than a minute after the restart, however, UNC struck again to make it 5-2. Craddock got a pass from Wold at the right side of the cage and fired a shot just inside the left post for her 12th goal of the season and fourth of the weekend.

"There were some stellar goals out there today," Shelton said. "I'm thrilled and relieved to be going to another final four."

On the day, UNC had 33 shots and Wake Forest keeper Valerie Dahmen made a career-high 19 saves.

The Tar Heels and Huskies have already met on the L.R. Hill Sports Complex turf this season, in a neutral-side matchup on Oct. 26, which UNC won 2-1.

NCAA



Balanced attack helps send Duke to first national semifinal since 2006


Emmie Le Marchand was one of four Blue Devils to score in Duke's win. Duke Athletics

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke will return to the NCAA semifinals for the first time since 2006 after defeating Massachusetts 4-1 on Sunday in the quarterfinals of the tournament at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium.

The fourth-seeded Blue Devils (16-6) advance to the national semifinals where they will meet top-seeded Maryland (22-1) for the third time this season at 2 p.m. Friday at Old Dominion’s L.R. Hill Complex in Norfolk, Va.

Four different Duke players registered goals, including senior forward Emmie Le Marchand, who also tallied two assists to help the squad move on to the semifinals for the first time under third-year head coach Pam Bustin.

“This team has been really excited and geared up to play this weekend,” Bustin said. “I was impressed with our team today – with the strength from the forward line to the back line, the energy with our interchange, just the mentality of what they knew they needed to do today and then having the poise and the conviction to do it. I’m so proud of the program and the team for their steady, intelligent, hard-fought performance today.”

Le Marchand put the Blue Devils on the board in the 10th minute, notching her team-leading 16th goal of the season on a cross from sophomore Aileen Johnson. A native of Worcester, England, Le Marchand has totaled four goals in NCAA championship play after completing a hat trick in Duke’s first-round win against New Hampshire. She has also tallied a point in six consecutive games heading into the national semifinals.

Much like in Saturday’s contest against the Wildcats, Sunday’s quarterfinal match featured aggressive play in the midfield. Duke and Massachusetts combined for just five shots in the opening frame, but the Blue Devils were efficient offensively, collecting a second goal in the 23rd minute on a penalty corner strike by sophomore Hannah Barreca. Le Marchand and junior Abby Beltrani received assists on the play and Duke took a 2-0 lead into the locker room at the break.

“We’ve been a second-half team this season but both games this weekend we really came out in the first half and put it on the other team,” Duke senior Grace Christus said. “That was a huge step for us in our growth and it’s coming at the best time. I think we really just took advantage of coming out in the first minute.”

Massachusetts made it a one-goal game less than 10 minutes into the second half on a successful penalty stroke by leading scorer Brooke Sabia. The Minutewomen continued to press forward during the next few possessions, earning five penalty-corner opportunities in the final 35 minutes. However, the Blue Devil defense fended off the visiting squad and moved quickly in transition to go up by two at the 14:05 mark when junior forward Jessica Buttinger tapped in a rebound at the front post for her seventh goal of the season.

Freshman Heather Morris added a goal in the 59th minute on a penalty corner play with Le Marchand and Christus assisting to ensure the squad a spot in the national semifinals for the fifth time in program history.

For the match, the Minutewomen held an 11-9 advantage in shots and totaled five penalty corners to four by Duke. Massachusetts keeper Sam Carlino recorded two saves while redshirt sophomore Lauren Blazing had four for the Blue Devils.

The Minutewomen finish their 2013 campaign with a final record of 19-5 for their most wins since the 2000 season.

“UMass is a great team and they had a great season this year,” Bustin said. “We had to bring our best to win today.”

Following an overtime meeting two weeks ago in the semifinals of the ACC championship, Duke and Maryland will square off in the first of two semifinals Friday in Norfolk.

NCAA



Connecticut becomes lone non-ACC team to advance to national semifinals


Chloe Hunnable scored for the fourth game in a row for Connecticut. Connecticut Athletics

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Connecticut punched its ticket to the NCAA National Semifinal for the 11th time in program history on Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 win against Michigan State at Syracuse. The Huskies continue to roll, improving their season record to 19-4 overall. The Spartans conclude their season with a 14-10 record.

The Huskies will face North Carolina in Norfolk, Va., on Friday. The second semifinal match will feature a battle between Maryland and Duke.

The Spartans, fresh off of a big upset against Syracuse on Saturday afternoon, went straight at the Huskies in the early going, possessing the ball in the UConn defensive half for the first few minutes of play. UConn minimized any shots on net and shifted momentum back in its favor jumpstarted by the first corner of the game in the 10th minute. After several good chances and a string of corners, Anna Jeute cashed in for the second time in as many days to put the Huskies on the board. After inserting a penalty corner, Jeute rushed to the front the net just in time for a Roisin Upton blast from the top of the circle to find its way through traffic and to the Jeute’s stick, tipping up and over the keeper for the score at 16:09.

UConn struck again at 24:40 to take a 2-0 lead on Chloe Hunnable’s 22nd goal of the year. Olivia Bolles played a long ball up the right sideline to sister Marie Elena Bolles. Marie Elena Bolles carried deep into Spartan territory, trailed by Hunnable on a two-on-one opportunity. Bolles drew the defender and goaltender, dishing to Hunnable in the middle for a wide-open finish.

Michigan State called a timeout following the second UConn goal, breaking from the huddle to capitalize on a UConn yellow card to trim the lead down to 2-1 with a score by Adelle Lever at 25:45. UConn reclaimed ground in the closing minutes of the second half, controlling the ball in its offensive zone for the remainder of the first frame.

The Spartans threatened to deadlock the score in the second half, gaining their first corner of the game after a yellow card sidelined a Huskie. UConn called a timeout with 17:08 remaining in an effort to break up the back-and-forth play. Marie Elena Bolles earned a penalty corner almost immediately as play resumed, but an Anna Middendorf blast was tipped wide of the goal.

UConn put the game on ice with Sophie Bowden’s fourth of the year. Marie Elena Bolles collected a Roisin Upton aerial and sprinted the length of the midfield, sending a hard shot low and away on net that Bowden redirected on the back door for the 3-1 cushion. UConn held the Spartans scoreless in the second half to seal the win.

Marie Elena Bolles assisted on two of UConn’s three goals, while Hunnable scored for the fourth game in a row. UConn is now 14-1 when Hunnable finds the back of the net.

Sarah Mansfield was forced to make three saves in goal for the Huskies. She picks up her 19th victory of the season with the win. Molly Cassidy played a solid game for the Spartans, making eight saves in the Michigan State cage, finishing with a 14-10 showing on the season.

The victory improves UConn’s all-time NCAA record to 31-22 and 8-0 in all meetings against Michigan State. The Huskies have posted a 10-3 record against ranked opponents this fall.

NCAA



Women primed to strike gold in Myanmar

By Jugjet Singh


THE Malaysian women's hockey team will be worth their weight in gold when they compete in the Myanmar Sea Games on Dec 13-21.

And the country can expect a clean sweep, as the men are also tipped to stand at the top of the podium in Myanmar.

Hockey was last played at the Thailand edition in 2007 after which it sat out two editions -- Laos in 2009 and Indonesia in 2011.

Malaysia are the defending champions in both competitions.

"After taking the bronze medal in the Asian Champions Trophy, I am confident my charges will not fail to deliver in the Sea Games.

"We are concentrating on penalty corners training right now, and also, will play more attacking hockey than we did in the Asian Champions Trophy," said coach Nasihin Nubli.

The Malaysian women beat China 1-0 in a pool match, and then beat them again 3-1 to claim bronze in their inaugural outing in the Third Asian Champions Trophy in Kakamigahara, Japan.

"Beating China has motivated my players and all we need to do in Myanmar is be sharper in the semi-circle, and we should be able to defend out title," added Nasihin.

The Malaysian women will play Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar.

In the men's tournament, the challenge will come from hosts Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam but Malaysia should be too strong even with a mixed team being fielded.

Nasihin's team open against Myanmar on Dec 13, followed by Cambodia the next day.

Their other matches are against Singapore (Dec 16), Thailand (Dec 17) and Indonesia (Dec 19). The final is on Dec 20.

New Straits Times



Terengganu aim to go one better on home soil

By Zainuddin Muhammad


FIRST time hosts Terengganu plan to take full advantage of home ground advantage in the National Under-14 hockey tournament which starts in Kuala Terengganu today.

Having finished second in Kuala Lumpur two years ago in the boys' category, the hosts are eager to lift the title for the first time, said Terengganu Hockey Association president Datuk Wan Ahmad Nizan Wan Abdul Hamid.

"With our supporters cheering our teams, we expect our boys to do well and the same can also be expected from our girls who are making their debut in the tournament this year," he said.

"To make it more exciting, not only for us but for the rest of the competing teams, the state government has agreed to offer additional prizes for the winners, which will be officially announced soon."

A total of 14 teams will compete in the boys' category with Terengganu being drawn in Group B with Johor, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Kelantan, Pahang and Malacca while last year's champions Kuala Lumpur will do battle in Group A with Perak, Kedah, Penang, Sabah, Sarawak and Perlis.

In the girls' category, Terengganu, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Malacca, Sarawak and Perlis are in Group A while Kelantan, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Johore, Kedah and Penang are in Group B.

Wan Ahmad Nizam said the boys will play their matches at Kuala Terengganu Hockey Stadium while matches for the girls will be held at Gong Badak Hockey Stadium.

"Some preliminary round matches will be held at SMK Padang Midin to allow fans in the area to watch the games," he said. "For both categories, the top two teams from each group qualify for the semi-finals with the final to be held at Batu Buruk Hockey Stadium."

Today's opening match in the boys' category in Batu Buruk will see Perak take on Perlis while in the girls' category, Perak play Kuala Lumpur in Gong Badak.

New Straits Times



KL boys aiming for seventh hockey title

by S. Ramaguru



Filepic shows the KL Under-14 hockey team which beat Terengganu 6-2 in the MHC-Milo final in 2011. They hope to maintain their dominance when this year's edition begins in Kuala Terengganu on Monday.

KUALA LUMPUR: Defending champions Kuala Lumpur aim to extend their hold on the MHC-Milo Under-14 boys’ hockey title for a seventh year when the tournament gets under way in Kuala Terengganu on Monday.

The KL team have been champions from 2007-2012. Perak were the inaugural winners in 2005 and also in 2006. But with the east coast sides like Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang making inroads in age-group tournaments, KL are not taking things for granted.

Said KL team manager Ali Sulaiman: We have a good side with several players with experience. But we hardly know our opponents. The age- group tournaments are usually very unpredictable. In recent years, teams like Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang have improved tremendously.

“The competition is more challenging now. Then, there are perennial rivals like Perak and Johor in the fray. While we are confident of a good showing, we must take one game at a time and not get complacent.”

KL, coached by Noor Adzli Ishak of SK Bandar Baru Seri Petaling, will begin their campaign tomorrow against Perlis followed by Penang on Wednesday.

“Most of our players come from the 1MAS programme and have good skills. They are from the various sports schools like the SMK Titiwangsa (the KL Sports School) and SSTMI in Johor. Some of the players have also trained with the national Under-16 team and a few of them played for us in the competition last year,” said Ali.

The city side have retained three players – Fallah Hassan Shahrom, Pavandip Singh and Mohamed Fitri – from last year’s winning squad.

Meanwhile, 12 teams will compete in the inaugural girls’ event.

All the participating teams in both the categories will receive a RM3,000 grant from the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) and sponsors.

The organisers will be using three pitches for the tournament. The boys’ matches will be held at the Batu Buruk Hockey Stadium while the girls will play at the Gong Badak Hockey Stadium. The pitch at SMK Padang Midin is put on standby.

The Star of Malaysia



'Confer Bharat Ratna on Dhyan Chand'

V Narayan Swamy

BANGALORE: A day after the central government named Sachin Tendulkar for the Bharat Ratna, moves are afoot to ensure that the country's highest civilian award is bestowed on hockey legend the late Dhyan Chand too. The hockey community, comprising former stars, is likely to meet sports minister Jitendra Singh to pursue the matter, sources told TOI. With Singh having assured the Dhyan Chand family in July that he would personally recommend the hockey maestro's name for the award, the sources felt he could make the difference.

Singh had been rather impressed by a delegation led by Dhyan Chand's son and hockey Olympian Ashok Kumar, which met him on July 12 and argued in his favour. Former Indian cricket captain Bishen Singh Bedi was part of the delegation. Reports even suggested that the minister argued in Dhyan Chand's favour a few days back but eventually backed Tendulkar.

"We don't understand why the government could not announce Dhyan Chand's name too for the award. Before cricket became popular, it was hockey which had caught the imagination of the nation. It kept the country united during the pre-independence days. If you are talking of sporting heroes, Dhyan Chand comes first," the sources said.

Hailing the government's decision to bestow the Bharat Ratna on the cricket genius, the sources said it would be ideal if both Dhyan Chand and Sachin got the award on the Republic Day. "But it would be unfair if the government fails to recognise hockey's contribution to the nation."

The Times of India