Source: England Hockey

England advance to Women’s Junior World Cup Semi-Finals

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Maddie Axford’s strike late in the third quarter helped England come from behind to beat the USA 2-1 and reach the last four of the FIH Women’s Junior World Cup.

USA went ahead in the opening stages through Ashley Sessa but England captain Millie Giglio levelled matters early in the second quarter.

Axford’s close-range effort in the 44th minute proved to be the winner, with England holding firm in the face of late pressure to seal a semi-final spot.

USA controlled possession in the early stages and took the lead just three minutes in through Sessa after a deflection from Kitty Chapple’s foot earned them a penalty corner.

Sessa snuck behind England’s defence and tapped the ball into the net to put them in front, though England responded strongly.

Vicki McCabe nearly drew Simon Letchford’s side level just two minutes later only to see her shot saved, while Lorna MacKenzie also came close moments later.

Georgie Gardens was next to threaten before the end of the first quarter but her strike flew just wide of the American goal.

England maintained their pressure early in the second quarter and drew level in the 17th minute through Giglio.

The skipper received the ball after a penalty corner and her low reverse stick effort went through the legs of USA keeper Annabel Skubisz and levelled proceedings.

England continued to control possession though the USA were still threatening and could have taken the lead through Gracyn Banks in the 39th minute, but she couldn’t quite convert a good opportunity.

It was then England’s turn to apply the pressure once again, with McCabe and Giglio both coming close to putting England in front.

And in the closing stages of the third quarter Axford put England ahead, turning home after a superb pass across the face of goal from McCabe.

McCabe and Swain had further opportunities to give England a two-goal advantage in the fourth quarter, though USA defended resolutely and fought hard in their quest to equalise.

The final five minutes proved a stern test of the English defence, with some crucial saves from Evie Wood keeping England in front.

And after the USA failed to convert from a late penalty corner, the England celebrations could begin with attentions now turning to Sunday’s semi-final.

Starting XI: Guickian, MacKenzie, Giglio (c), Welch (GK), Brough, Butterworth, Axford, Chapple, McCabe, Burnley, Long

Subs: Mason, Wood (GK), Martin, Manton, Curtis, Gardens, Swain

Captain and goalscorer Giglio said: “It was a very, very tough game but we knew it was going to be physical and we just fought until the last minute – quite literally until the last second. We were unfortunate to concede a penalty corner there but it was really good that we could defend it.”

Head coach Letchford said: “First of all, well played to the USA. I thought it was a really good game of hockey that I hope the crowd enjoyed as much as we did. We made it difficult for ourselves, we had three or four very good chances so we should have put the game to bed and shouldn’t have faced that final couple of minutes that we had to endure. Our PCD’s been good all tournament, so I’m very proud of them.”

England 2 (1)

Giglio (17’, PC) Axford (44’, FG)

USA 1 (1)

Sessa (3’, PC)

With thanks to England Hockey