Argentina beat New Zealand 5-1 to win Argentina Hockey World League Final
Germany take third place in 6-2 victory over China
Individual awards won by Stacey Michelsen (NZL); Wang Mengyu (CHN); Maria Granatto and Li Dongxiao (CHN)
Argentina are the 2015 Hockey World League champions after defeating New Zealand 5-1 at the newly-named Luciana Aymar Stadium in Rosario, Argentina on Sunday evening.
After two years of global hockey competitions, it all came down to one hour of thrilling, competitive hockey.
While it was Argentina who dominated and wowed the capacity crowd with their stick skills, New Zealand – competing in their first major final since 2010 – played their part in this exciting and highly-skilled match.
The first half was predominantly Argentina, with Sally Rutherford in the New Zealand goal performing herioics to keep a clean sheet..
Just 15 seconds had gone in the second half before Argentina’s Las Leonas opened their account.
It was the player voted Young Player of the Argentina Hockey World League Final, Maria Granatto (16′), who scored after a good run gave her the space she needed to slip the ball past Rutherford.
The second Argentina goal came when Noel Barriounuevo’s penalty corner shot was saved but Maria Campoy was on hand to slam the ball home.
Anita Punt pulled one back for New Zealand when she put a penalty corner drag flick high into the corner of Succi’s goal.
The two-goal cushion was restored when Campoy got her second goal and Argentina’s third.
Noel Barriounuevo buried the ball deep into the goal from a penalty corner to take the score to 4-1.
Merino topped a great performance with an outstanding goal to make it 5-1 with just 10 minutes left on the clock.
Afterwards, a delighted and tearful Carla Rebecchi said: “I am so proud to have won a final in Rosario in front of such an amazing crowd and with this team.”
Delfina Merino added: “Did we do it for the crowd? In truth no, first we did it for ourselves. We have had highs and lows this year so it was good to finish on a high. Then, of course the fans were amazing, but we are a young team and we have to sort our attitude out. We started badly but we learnt.”
Meanwhile, Coach to New Zealand, Mark Hager, said: “I am very proud of my team, we didn’t play our best today, not in any area of the game. We let Argentina run with the ball way too much, but, look, we were in our first final and we have to learn how to perform in finals.”
In the first match of the day, Germany swept to a 6-2 victory in the third place play-off with China.
Goals from Pia-Sophie Oldhafer, Eileen Hoffmann, Julia Muller, Janne Muller-Weiland, Lisa Altenburg and Marie Mavers ensured a third place finish for the ninth-ranked team.
Wang Mengyu of China scored twice in reply to secure her status as top scorer with five goals in total at the Argentina Hockey World League Final.
Winners – Argentina
Runners-up – New Zealand
3rd place – Germany
4th place – China
Player of the Argentina HWL Final
Stacey Michelsen (NZL)
Goalkeeper of the Argentina HWL Final
Li Dongxiao (CHN)
Young Player of the Argentina HWL Final
Maria Granatto (ARG)
Top goalscorer at the Argentina HWL Final
Wang Mengyu (CHN)
Just prior to the start of the final, the stadium was renamed the Luciana Aymar Stadium in honour of local Las Leonas hockey legend Luciana Aymar. Aymar retired from international hockey after Argentina won the 2014 Champions Trophy.
Season three of the Hockey World League begins in summer 2016. More details to follow onwww.fih.ch