Jillaroos reach semis
On course for best JWC finish since 2005
Grace Stewart 5, 51 (FG, FG)
Madison Fitzpatrick 29 (FG)
Ambrosia Malone 48, 70 (FG, FG)
Savannah Fitzpatrick 64 (FG)
Michaela Spano 69 (FG)
BELGIUM 2 (2)
Lien Hillewaert 3 (FG)
Joanne Peeters 30 (FG)
Doubles from Rio Olympian Grace Stewart and Ambrosia Malone helped Australia’s under 21 women’s hockey team, the Jillaroos, to a comprehensive 7-2 win over Belgium in the quarter final of the Junior World Cup in Santiago on Thursday morning (AEDT).
The Fitzpatrick sisters, Madison and Savannah, both also found the target, alongside Michaela Spano with the win putting the Aussies into a semi-final showdown with defending silver medallists Argentina on Saturday morning (AEDT).
The Netherlands and Spain will meet in the other semi-final clash.
A tight opening half saw the sides level pegging at the half time break with Stewart cancelling out Lien Hillewaert’s early opener, only for Joanne Peeters to level for 2-2 on the stroke of half time after Madison Fitzpatrick had given Australia the lead 60 seconds earlier. Fitzpatrick’s powerful low reverse strike came following a pinpoint aerial pass across the circle from captain Mariah Williams.
An inspirational half time team talk proved to be the catalyst for the Jillaroos to turn the match on its head in the second half.
Malone’s first goal, a rebound after the Belgian goalkeeper had deflected Grata Hayes’ cross, broke the stalemate and from there Australia hammered home their advantage.
A flowing move down the right-hand side resulted in Williams holding off the challenge of a defender before squaring the ball to Stewart for 4-2 just three minutes later.
Inside the last ten minutes of the match, Australia struck three times. Savannah Fitzpatrick pounced on a loose ball before Michaela Spano made it 6-2, turning home Rebecca Greiner’s low cross from the left. Ambrosia Malone concluded the scoring in the final minute in emphatic style, lofting the ball over the goalkeeper from the penalty spot after Savannah Fitzpatrick found her unmarked in the Belgian circle.
After the match, Australian coach Tim White said, “We were definitely on the back foot for periods of the first half. Belgium pressed us well and we were sloppy with our ball handling, which resulted in turnovers.
“At half time, we reminded the group about how we play best, and to their credit they raised their game to another level. In the end, we were rewarded with some great team goals.
“We will enjoy the victory but also recover well and prepare thoroughly for our semi-final against Argentina.”
The FIH is yet to publish the final match schedule for the two semi-finals. Australia will take on Argentina at either 7:45am AEDT or 10:00am AEDT on Saturday.
In reaching the last four of the competition, the Jillaroos are guaranteed their best finish at the event since at least 2005, the last time the Junior World Cup was held in Chile, where they finished fourth.
Australia’s Junior women’s best result at the Junior World Cup is a silver medal, won in 1993 and 1997. Australia also won bronze in 2001.Last time out in Germany in 2013, Australia finished sixth.
Don’t forget to tune into the next live stream to watch Australia in their semi final clash via the following link: Junior World Cup Live Stream.
The match against Belgium can be watched again on demand here.
See photos from the match on Facebook.
Jillaroos squad v Belgium
Laura Gray (Goulburn, NSW)*ACTAS scholarship holder
Madison Fitzpatrick (Cabarita, NSW)
Kate Hanna (Constitution Hill, NSW)
Greta Hayes Maroubra, NSW)
Ambrosia Malone (Molendinar, QLD)
Kaitlin Nobbs (Newington, NSW)
Mikaela Patterson (Blackbutt, NSW)
Aleisha Power (Clackline, WA)
Grace Stewart (Gerrigong, NSW)
Sophie Taylor (Camberwell, VIC)
Mariah Williams (Parkes, NSW)
Kristina Bates (Port Melbourne, VIC)
Rebecca Greiner (Bundaberg, QLD)
Savannah Fitzpatrick (Cabarita, NSW)
Karri Somerville (Kensington, WA)
Michaela Spano (Toorak Gardens, SA)
Renee Taylor (Brisbane, QLD)
Rene Hunter (Wentworth Point, NSW)