The clinical finishing of Korea was enough to defeat Scotland in their final Pool A match at the World League Semi-Finals in Brussels. It was a brave and battling performance by the Scots but the result means Scotland will play in the 9th/10th play-off on Thursday.
It was a good confident start by the Scots, pegging Korea back. There were no clear chances created in the early stages but the team was playing good hockey, and probing the Korean defence with menace.
Then came a sucker punch. Korea took the lead against the run of play when a crash ball from the left was deflected at great pace into the net by Eunbi Cheon. It was a superb finish out of absolutely nowhere to make it 1-0.
The Koreans were enjoying more possession at the start of the second quarter and won a soft penalty corner from a speculative crash ball into the D. The resulting flick prompted a superb save by Gibson low to her right, and Scotland tore forward on the break looking for an equaliser, but it was well defended and led to nothing.
Scotland came agonisingly close to equalising when Fiona Burnet was denied by a goal line clearance after some excellent play by Sarah Robertson on the left. Robertson dribbled the ball into the D and found Burnet who was unlucky not to find the net.
Korea won another penalty corner after Robyn Collins leaned on a running forward to concede. The initial effort was saved by Gibson but it led to another penalty corner after the ball got caught underneath the keeper. The second effort by Seul Ki Cheon found the bottom left corner to make it 2-0 to Korea.
In the third quarter an early chance was created by Scotland as they came quickly out of the blocks, but Sarah Jamieson couldn’t connect to a powerful pass into the D to get a shot on target. Korea then broke forward and won a penalty corner. Seul Ki Cheon stepped up to strike it and scored her second, and Korea’s third, to make it 3-0. It was a killer blow to the Scots and left the team with a mountain to climb.
A short while later and a scramble in the Scotland D resulted in another penalty corner to Korea. It allowed Korea to strike a fourth when Hyejeong Shin deflected the ball past Gibson to make it 4-0.
Yun Kyoung Cho came very close to scoring a fifth for Korea when she latched onto a long ball forward but scooped her effort wide of the left post.
The fifth goal for Korea arrived right at the end of the third quarter. Seul Ki Cheon bagged her hat trick with a rocket in off the crossbar to make it 5-0.
Into the final quarter and from a Nikki Lloyd pass, Millie Brown battled away in the Korean D to win a penalty corner. It led to an effort for Amy Costello but it was deflected over the bar by a rushing Korean defender.
Scotland were awarded a penalty corner for a foul on Holmes near the end of the match. Nikki Lloyd injected but a good save at the right post denied Scotland a well-deserved consolation goal.
Scotland’s women’s Head Coach Gordon Shepherd said, “It was a tremendous effort by the players and in the end we got beaten by some really clinical finishing, while we didn’t make the most of the opportunities we created. There’s a lot to be learned from these games and it’s about using this experience positively for the future.
“It’s a very young team and our young players have all done really well in these games. Players like Millie Brown, Fiona Burnet, and Katie Robertson have been superb throughout. Now we’ll prepare for the match on Thursday and try to end the tournament on a win.”
Scotland’s Becky Ward said, “It’s been a great experience to get here and wanted to play our best against the top teams. It’s been a great learning experience for the squad and we’ve learned a lot from the tournament. We’ve got our final game and we want to get some pride back from that game.”
Images: Ned Dawson / Planet Hockey