Senior National Women's Hockey: SAI stuns MP to enter semis

SAI entered the Senior Nationals semifinals for the first time after it prevailed 5-4 over Madhya Pradesh in a tense shootout in the quarterfinal.

SAI women's team reached the semifinals of the Senior Nationals for the first time.   -  P. V. Sivakumar (Representative)

SAI stunned last year's runner-up Madhya Pradesh 5-4 in the penalty shoot out to enter the semifinals of the 10th National Women's Hockey Championship (A division) at the National Games Hockey Stadium here on Thursday.

In the semifinals, SAI will meet Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy which upset Punjab by Jyoti Pal's solitary goal. Last year's semifinalists Haryana and Maharashtra will face off in the other semifinal. Haryana beat Odisha 4-2 while Maharashtra came back from behind to beat Jharkhand 2-1 in the quarterfinals.

SAI and MP shared four goals during regular time and in the shoot out SAI's goalkeeper Anshu Lakra was the standout with three crucial saves.

Madhya Pradesh seemed to heading for a victory when it led 2-1 with a minute to go for the final hooter. But MP conceded a needless penalty and Dung Dung Betan snatched a last-minute equaliser for SAI by crashing in the rebound after the goalkeeper saved the first attempt.

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MP paid the price for being too defensive in the second half as it tried to preserve its 2-1 lead. SAI hustled the MP defence from  both flanks. Dung Dung Betan was a constant threat and the sustained pressure resulted in the equaliser.

At the start it was SAI which called the shots as it went ahead early in the third minute through Gayatri Kissan. But MP regrouped and played with assurance in the midfield. Narender Kaur drilled a low shot from inside the D to equalise for MP in the 21st minute and at stroke of half-time, Raju Ranwa converted a penalty corner to put her side ahead. However, MP's passivity in the second half backfired against a keener SAI side which reaches its maiden semifinal in the Senior Nationals.

The results (quarterfinals)

SAI 5 (Gayatri Kissan 3, Dung Dung Betan 59, Simita Minz, Anima Tiru, Sonia) bt Madhya Pradesh 4 (Narender Kaur 21, Raju Ranwa 30, Akansha Singh, Anshu Lakra); Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy 1 (Jyoti Pal 42) bt Punjab 0; Haryana 4 (Amandeep Kaur 5, Deepika 9, Annu 26, Devika 53) bt Odisha 2 (Dipti Larkra 32, 55); Maharashtra 2 (Rutuja Pisal  30, 52) bt Jharkhand 1 (Albea Rani Toppo 12).
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