The Indian women’s hockey team beat USA 4-0 in its final match of the FIH Pro League 2021-22 at the Hazelaarweg Stadion in Rotterdam on Wednesday.
The win secured India a third-place finish in what was the side’s debut campaign in the FIH Pro League. India have 30 points from 14 matches which means that fourth-placed Belgium, who have 22 from 14, cannot leapfrog the Indians even if they win their remaining two matches.
Vandana Katariya (38’, 53’), Sonika (53’) and Sangita Kumari (56’) scored the goals for India in the second half against the USA.
USA, world No. 15, made a bright start and forced a good save from Indian captain and goalkeeper Savita Punia from a penalty corner early.
Eighth-ranked India, however, soon settled down and looked threatening going forward, Sharmila Devi should have given India the lead five minutes in but American goalkeeper Amanda Magadan got down quickly to deny the Indian attacker from a point-blank range.
After the intense start, the match slowed down a bit with both teams taking a defend-first approach. Most chances in the opening half came through penalty corners but both sets of goalkeepers were vigilant enough to keep the score goalless.
The trend continued after the restart as well. Another big chance fell to India’s Navneet Kaur midway through the third quarter, but Magadan showed good reflexes yet again to protect the deadlock.
Magadan was a busy player for the remainder of the penultimate quarter but the American custodian stood strong. The American, however, finally yielded from a penalty corner in the 38th minute.
India, who had wasted most of their PCs till then, finally got one right as Gurjit Kaur’s powerful strike took a deflection off Vandanaand Katariya and eluded Magadan.
India should have doubled their lead minutes later but with an open goal in front of them as Magadan lay on the floor, both Navneet and Sangita went for a strike together and ballooned it.
In the fourth quarter, Vandana Katariya finished off a lovely team move to give India a two-goal cushion before Sonika and Sangita Kumari spruced up the scoreline to 4-0.
India will now turn their attention to the FIH Women's Hockey World Cup 2022, which will be played in the Netherlands and Spain from July 1 to 17. India will play England in their Pool B opener at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, on July 3.