Despite the disappointing news that the Hockeyroos had almost half of their funding slashed, the Aussies showed off their litany of talent in a win over India on Thursday night.
On the same day it was revealed the Hockeyroos had almost half of their funding slashed in the lead up to the Paris Olympics, a green and gold youth group unveiled the rich rivers of talent flowing through the sport with a stunning demolition of India.
Sporting five debutantes among 13 players with fewer than 20 international caps, the Baby-roos displayed resilience beyond their tender years in slamming home four goals against an Indian side that had knocked them out of the Tokyo Olympics in the quarterfinals.
After a nervy first term where neither side found the back of the net, Ash Utri tickled home the opener in the second quarter as the Aussies lit up Adelaide’s MATE Stadium with a 4-2 victory.
It was a little bit of fairy dust added to the realisation of her Hockeyroos dream with a goal on debut, showing off her unique strikers’ instincts by using three powerful strides to find separation from her defender and hit the perfect spot for a haring Abby Wilson to pick her out.
The 25-year-old used a deft touch that nutmegged ‘The Great Wall of India’ goalkeeper Savita, to become the feel-good story of the night after the Western Bulldogs’ premiership player had all-but given up hope of ever wearing the green and gold on the pitch.
Super strong Maddy Fitzpatrick doubled the advantage with a penalty corner drag flick that kissed Savita’s paw on its way into goal and left her smarting.
Two minutes later, India struck back when Fitzpatrick couldn’t clear a chaos ball from Nikki Pradhan and it landed in the lap of the lively Sangita, all alone at the back post.
But that would only produce a lift from the Aussies after halftime, leaving India rattled to the core as hometown hero and captain Jane Claxton cracked one into the attacking circle that allowed debutante Ash Arnott to slide through the defence and guide it home.
Claxton was thrilled with her side’s change of “intention” after quarter time.
“The first quarter, we had a lot of nervous energy out there,” Claxton said.
“The girls calmed down, started showing a bit more presence on the ball, thinking a lot clearer and it showed upfront.”
Arnott and pocket rocket Hannah Cullum-Saunders battled it out for best debutante but the finest player on the pitch was the busy Courtney Schonell, who capped her night by launching an unstoppable tomahawk for the Aussies’ fourth goal.
“It was super fun, it’s really good to have five debutantes alongside us,” Schonell said.
“We played a really good game, we had lots of fun and we stuck to our processes and we got the job done today.”
Moments later, Kaur Navneet’s fluffed penalty corner drive worked out perfectly for ejector Sharmila Devi, whose effort to storm the back post allowed her to deflect in the bobbling ball.
But, after each Indian goal, the Hockeyroos huddled as one in a galvanising display symbolic of the togetherness that has bonded a squad that has well and truly left behind the cultural issues identified in the lead up to Tokyo.
It also left the Indians with a frustrating wait as they were already set up in their half, the Aussie girls refusing to be rushed.
Reserve goalkeeper Zoe Newman, in just her fifth international appearance, rubbed salt into the Indian wounds late in the fourth with a brilliant save off of a penalty stroke that preserved the Hockeyroos’ two-goal lead left her dancing a little jig.
Game two of the three-test series is on Saturday night.
Hockeyroos 4-2 India
Wild journey from premiership Bulldog to Hockeyroos debut
When a teenage Ash Utri chose hockey over Australian rules, winning a premiership with her beloved Western Bulldogs was an impossibility, while donning the green and gold as a Hockeyroo was a dream.
After all, the AFLW was just a thought bubble at AFL House when the talented junior athlete had to make the call. The Mazon over the Sherrin became a no-brainer for a young gun who would make her senior Premier League debut with powerhouse Essendon, at the tender age of 14.
But the dawn of the AFLW — and a little help from a teammate — presented her with the opportunity to don the red, white and blue, culminating in the 2018 AFLW flag.
That was five years ago and, after nearly giving up hope of ever representing Australia on the pitch, the 25-year-old is now on the verge of her first international hockey cap during the Hockeyroos’ three-test series against India in Adelaide this week.
“You’re young and you’re trying to hang in there as long as you can and hope something happens,” Utri said.
“I still can’t believe it’s happening, I’m in shock.”
A gun striker with rare goal sense, Utri turned in a monster 2022 season, topping the Premier League’s scorers in Essendon’s grand final-winning campaign, and is among five debutants — including good friend and premiership teammate Olivia Downes — in coach Katrina Powell’s experimental squad.
All will be eager to make an impression ahead of August’s Oceania Cup, which doubles as qualifiers for the Paris Olympics.
“Olivia and I saw each other basically every day for five days and had no idea the other had made it, we kept it a secret from each other,” Utri laughed.
“I was having a nap when the teams came out and she called me and we were both so excited for each other.”
A lifelong Western Bulldogs fan, Utri was spotted by recruiting manager Mick Sandry who had kept tabs on her through his sister — and Essendon Hockey Club teammate — Kate Sandry.
Part of the national hockey set up at the AIS, coaches and high performance teams across the two sports co-operated to ensure Utri could cope with the extreme demands.
“It got a bit hectic, there were lots of moving parts to try to make it work and it’d get exhausting at times,” she said.
“I’d be at a national junior camp (hockey), I’d train at the camp and then I’d fly out one night to go play (footy) in Adelaide, then I’d come back and join back in on the camp.
“I look back at it now and I don’t know how I did it.”
THREE-TEST SERIES V INDIA IN ADELAIDE
MATE Stadium, Adelaide
Match 1 – Thursday 18 May 2023 (6.30pm local, 7.00pm AEST)
Match 2 – Saturday 20 May 2023 (6.30pm local, 7.00pm AEST)
Match 3 – Sunday 21 May 2023 (6.00pm local, 6.30pm AEST)
Watch live on Fox Sports and Kayo
Alice Arnott, 25, Willow Tree, NSW
Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 29, Albury, NSW
Maddison Brooks, 18, Hobart, TAS
Jane Claxton, 30, Adelaide, SA
Olivia Downes, 22, Brighton, VIC
Maddy Fitzpatrick, 26, Cabarita Beach, QLD
Morgan Gallagher, 25, Brisbane, QLD
Greta Hayes, 26, Sydney, NSW
Alanna Kavanagh, 20, West Pennant Hills, NSW
Pippa Morgan, 24, Nedlands, WA
Zoe Newman (gk), 23, Gymea Bay, NSW
Courtney Schonell, 22, Narellan Vale, NSW
Hattie Shand, 23, Naracoorte, SA
Maddison Smith, 22, Albion Park, NSW
Grace Stewart, 25, Gerringong, NSW
Tatum Stewart, 21, Toowoomba, QLD
Aisling ‘Ash’ Utri, 25, Moonee Ponds, VIC
Abby Wilson, 24, Lithgow, NSW
Originally published as Hockeyroos v India 2023: News, scores and stats from the three-test series in Adelaide
#Hockey #Australia #India #live #stream #Scores #stats #start #time #threetest #series #Adelaide #Hockeyroos #squad #Ash #Utri