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Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge I Gold Medal Winners
Australia reclaimed their place at the top table with a comprehensive victory over USA to claim the big prize, the Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge I title, along with a place back in the Champions Trophy.
Despite an early wobble when Rachel Dawson clipped home a sweet penalty corner, the Hockeyroos had too much power allied to their forward guile to outdo a spirited US challenge. They did ship a third minute penalty corner that the rangy Dawson smacked home via a deflection but once Jade Close had snapped up an equaliser, there was just one side in the ascendancy. It was a very neat piece of work as Casey Eastham controlled a bouncing ball into her general vicinity and the diminutive striker bounced the ball over Jackie Kintzer and in.
Georgia Nanscawen applied a deft finish to complete a counter-attack move, sliding into the bottom right corner in the 24th minute. Close’s delicious reverse-stick effort extended the margin further, a classy finish for a 3-1 half-time lead. Australia came out quickly again in the second half and virtually put the game to bed as Emily Smith smashed down the middle her side’s fourth goal in the 37th minute. From there, the final endured a bit of a lull as USA attempted to gain a foothold in the tie but could not break through.
And the Hockeyroos finished with a flourish, scoring two corners in the closing 11 minutes, with Jodie Schulz on the mark, picking out the bottom left corner while her late push was clipped in by Fiona Boyce to round out the victory. For the US, it was a second successive final defeat in this level of competition, denied the last time by Japan in 2011. Katie O'Donnell did take home the player of the tournament award while Emily Hurtz was awarded the top-scorer prize, edging out Stephanie de Groof by virtue of more goals from play.
Carol Metchette, meanwhile, was honoured in her final international match as an umpire as she retires after 134 international games, two Olympics among many other accolades.
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