Laura Bartlett dahses Spain's medal hopes
It was the first penalty shootout at this year’s Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge 1, and only the second in FIH history (the first was in Vienna at the Champions Challenge 2 in the Bronze Medal Game between Belarus and Chile). After five shots, both teams converted three of their chances setting up a sudden-death shootout. Raquel Huertas was denied in her attempt setting up Bartlett’s heroics.
Bartlett nearly ran out of time as she bobbed and weaved for nearly seven seconds before popping the ball in for the winning goal.
The game itself was almost as entertaining as the shootout as teams see-sawed back-and-forth with neither able pull out to a clear advantage. Scotland got on the board first, only to have the lead erased less than a minute later. Holly Cram and Beatriz Perez scored the open field goals.
The 1-1 tie stood through the break until Scotland’s Nikki Kidd made it a 2-1 game after her penalty corner found the back corner or the net. But again, Spain had the answer when Pilar Sanchez put in the 2-2 goal, also a penalty corner, just four minutes later.
The bronze medal for Scotland is the biggest surprise of the event. Scotland entered this edition of the Champions Challenge 1 as the 21st team in the FIH World Ranking, far behind its opponents. The third-place finish is sure to bolster the team’s confidence and its place in the World Ranking. Overall, Scotland had a very solid tournament, finishing second in its preliminary round group.
Spain’s fourth-place finish is slightly below it expectations. The Spanish entered the tournament as the second-highest ranked team at #10, although the finish should not have a major impact on its place in the World Ranking.