National Women's hockey Championships: Haryana, SAI enter final

Haryana will meet SAI which edged past Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy 2-1 in the sudden death.

A resilient Maharashtra side clawed back twice in the match to equalise but Devika Sen converted a crucial penalty in the 54th minute to give Haryana the victory. (Representative Image)   -  Getty Images

Haryana quelled a spirited comeback from Maharashtra 3-2 to enter the final of the 10th Senior National Women's hockey championship (A division) at the National Games Hockey stadium here on Saturday.

In the summit clash, Haryana will meet SAI which edged past Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy 2-1 in the sudden death. A resilient Maharashtra side clawed back twice in the match to equalise but Devika Sen converted a crucial penalty in the 54th minute to give Haryana the victory.

Haryana started strongly and rattled Maharashtra with its aggressive intent. Prolific striker Deepika scored a field goal to put Haryana ahead in the sixth minute. However, Maharashtra found its rhythm slowly and unsettled Haryana with fast breaks. Vaishnavi equalised for Maharashtra with a stunning reverse flick in the 12th minute.

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The second Haryana goal came against the run of play in the 23rd minute. The Maharashtra defence lowered its guard and allowed Deepika Sen enough time to drill a low shot from inside the D.

After the break, Maharashtra attacked with enough verve, forcing Haryana to defend in numbers. The roving forward Rutuja Pisal was a constant threat for the Haryana defence and the sustained pressure resulted in a penalty corner for Maharashtra in the 53rd minute. Rutuja squeezed in the rebound that came her way after the Haryana goalkeeper Rekha padded away the first attempt.

But the joy was shortlived as the quick riposte from Haryana saw it earn a penalty corner. Devika Sen converted the penalty with a direct hit to seal the contest.

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For the second consecutive match, SAI's goalkeeper Anshu Lakra turned out to be her team's saviour. She was beaten only once in the shoot out against MPHA as SAI created history by reaching its maiden final.

Both SAI and MPHA were locked goalless during regular time. The first set of penalties failed to separate the teams as both of them scored a goal each. In the sudden death, Simta Minz scored for SAI while Anshu blocked Sadhna Senger's attempt.

MPHA was the better team during regular time. The academy girls made more threatening forays into the rival D and earned more penalty corners than their rivals. But MPHA failed to grab the chances that came its way. SAI defence soaked up the pressure to take the match into the shoot out.

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