liaSunday 22 July 2018 | The Hockeyroos’ 2018 Women’s World Cup campaign has commenced with a 3-2 victory over Japan at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London on Sunday morning (AEST).
Australia raced to a three-goal lead five minutes into the second half before Japan rallied but the Hockeyroos held on for three points to start the World Cup.
Newcomer Rosie Malone (17′), Emily Hurtz (22′) and Jodie Kenny (35′) scored the goals for the Hockeyroos, who overcame a nervous and cagey first quarter.
Motomi Kawamura (36′) pulled one back immediately after Kenny’s drag flick and while the Japanese piled the pressure on late, they only netted their second goal through Akiko Kato with under 25 seconds left.
The result puts Australia top of Pool D with three points, with New Zealand and Belgium to play on Monday morning (AEST).
Australia are next in action on Tuesday night (11pm AEST) against Belgium.
Malone, who was only added to the national squad in May and opened the scoring in her first appearance at a major tournament, said: “This amazing crowd excites you.
“I was ready to go and I was in the right place at the right time.
“We practice that 1000 times and it paid off, so I’m stoked.”
Australia had the best of the chances in the opening quarter, with Brooke Peris setting up both Hurtz for a backhand opportunity and Kathryn Slattery for a diving deflection within two minutes, only to be denied by Japan keeper Megumi Kageyama.
The Hockeyroos won the first penalty corner of the contest late in the first, but Kageyama denied both Kenny and Georgina Morgan.
Australia made their dominance count after Stephanie Kershaw won a 17th minute penalty corner, with Malone deflecting into the roof of the net from Morgan’s drag flick.
The goal was Malone’s fourth for Australia in her ninth cap, having only debuted in January.
Peris spurned a good one-on-one chance to make it 2-0 a minute later, before Hurtz doubled the side’s lead.
The Victorian forward tapped in from close range in the 22nd minute after Slattery’s shot rebounded to her off the post.
Grace Stewart won Australia their third penalty corner in the 35th minute and Queensland mom Kenny stepped up with a trademark drag flick into the top corner to make it 3-0.
Japan immediately responded with Minami Shimizu driving forward, before laying off to Kawamura whose reverse stick shot beat the advancing Australia keeper Rachael Lynch.
Australia survived a goalmouth scramble moments before three-quarter time, with the ball trickling under Lynch and wide of the post.
Malone sent a shot on the turn narrowly wide from a 47th minute penalty corner, but from there Japan dominated with numerous circle penetrations.
Lynch and Australia’s defence held firm, until the dying seconds when Kato forced the ball home at the second attempt from point blank range.
Australia 3 (Malone 17′, Hurtz 22′, Kenny 35′)
Japan 2 (Kawamura 36′, Kato 60′)
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