Ireland edge past Belgium to reach semis
Updated: Thursday, 04 Oct 2012 21:09
Ireland beat Belgium 2-1 today in the quarter finals of the Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge with a goal in the final seconds of extra time.
This win gives the Irish women's team redemption on several levels Ireland lost to Belgium in the Olympic qualifier missing out on the London games.
Despite a cagey start from both sides it was the Belgians who had the first real chance with a reverse stick shot in the 8th minute but Coppey lifted it over the bar. Ireland continued to try find a way though stringing some good passes together but the final shot evaded them in the first half as the Belgian's interrupted the Irish flow.
Belgium had the first set piece of the day but De Groof's drag was well charged down by a solid looking Irish defence to keep the attack at bay.
Belgium open the second half goal hunting as Leclef secured a penalty corner leading to three shots being saved by an on form Irish defence. Ireland were next up for the set piece as Lisa Jacob cleverly secured Ireland first PC and with that the first goal thanks to Michelle Harvey's drag setting up Aine Connery for an excellent tap in to make it 1-0 to the hosts. Ireland then had to absorb some pressure as Audrey O'Flynn was shown yellow and binned for five minutes but minutes later Belgium found themselves in the same situation with ten.
Raes equalised from a well taken penalty corner to level it to 1-1 in the 63rd minute and push through to extra time which was golden goal seven and a half each way.
Extra time was a tense affair with Boons going close early on for Belgium and Katie Mullan going close as Ireland found themselves up the other end. Ireland had a great chance to close out the match as they had penalty corner on the hooter after the first seven and a half but Speers just missed the tap in and the game went into the second half of extra time.
The story seemed to repeat itself this time Smyth securing Ireland a penalty corner on the final hooter before a shoot out was declared the first penalty corner led to a second and this time they made no mistake, with Audrey O'Flynn dragging home to clinch the victory 2-1 and a place in the semi finals against USA.
Commenting after the game Coach Denis Pritchard said "This was always going to be a special game - we maintained a very high level of concentration and focus throughout. A key feature for me was that when they were in the ascendant we defended with great intensity and didn’t' give them a a foothold in the match. Every game we demonstrate progress in the small details."