Uruguay and Belarus edged out wins in the quarter-finals to secure spots in the semifinals against Chile and India, respectively. Uruguay hung on to a 2-1 advantage over Mexico, while Belarus scored four unanswered goals to overcome a three-goal defecit and ultimately dismiss hosts Canada.
Quarter-Final: Uruguay vs Mexico (2-1)
Uruguay converted their first penalty corner to take an early lead as Janine Stanley tapped in a rebound in the 5th minute to send the Cimarronas up 1-0. Uruguay dominated possession in the opening half but struggled to generate quality chances in the circle. Mexico defenders Eliana Cota and Karen Orozco were very busy and did well to disrupt the flow of the Uruguay attack. Mexico keeper Jesus Castillo was also quick to get a pad on the few open looks at goal. Uruguay were able to again find the backboard in the 16th minute on a close range finish from Matilde Kliche and they 2-0 entering half time.
Uruguay continued to pin Mexico in their end but were unable to find their rhythm through the low wall of Mexican sticks at the circle perimeter. An uninspiring third quarter seemed to recharge the teams in the fourth. In the 47th minute Mexico were awarded a penalty stroke after Ana Juarez’s shot deflected off a Uruguay foot on route to goal. Michel Navarro’s flick beat Uruguay keeper Rosanna Paselle on her stick side to cut Uruguay’s lead to one. Mexico showed a revived wave of energy but were just short of an equalizer, sending Uruguay through to the semifinals with the 2-1 victory. Uruguay will face Chile on 8 April and are just one win away from potentially qualifying for the Hockey World League Round 3.
Quarter-Final: Canada vs Belarus (3-4)
It was a tale of two halves as Canada got too comfortable after a first half lead and allowed Belarus four-straight second half goals on route to booking themselves a spot into the semifinals against India.
Bolstered by home field advantage, Canada came out crisp and composed, moving the ball with confidence and earning two early free play goals. In the 8th minute Jordyn Faiczak’s baseline run resulted in a cross-circle pass where a waiting Stephanie Norlander tapped in for a 1-0 lead. Three minutes later Canadian Brienne Stairs cut through the Belarussian midfield with ease and set up a streaking Hannah Haughn, who calmly flicked the ball to the far netting to double her team’s advantage. Canadian Rachel Donohoe cleaned up a rebound to net her fourth of the tournament and give Canada a 3-0 lead in the 20th.
It wasn’t until the third quarter that Belarus started to show their offensive flare. A penalty corner in the 35th minute was brilliantly executed as a sliding Volha Skryba deflected in to break Canada’s shutout to 3-1. Momentum drastically shifted and just five minutes later Belarus cut Canada’s lead to one. A hard ball was crushed in to the circle and an unmarked Maryna Nikitsina redirected past Williams to get Belarus within one, trailing 3-2. It didn’t stop there as another penalty corner chance allowed Yuliya Mikheichyk’s drag flick to level the game 3-3 in the 43rd minute, while captain Ryta Batura blasted home a penalty corner strike in the 51st to give Belarus the 4-3 lead. Canada had multiple penalty corner chances in the dying minutes but Belarus goalkeeper Maryna Navitskaya was outstanding between the pipes. Set pieces proved to be the difference on the day as Belarus’ 4-3 victory knocks the hosts from World Cup qualification through World League.
The 8 April semifinal stage is now set as India will play Belarus at 14:15 and Chile will play Uruguay at 16:30. Canada now plays Trinidad and Tobago at 12:00 for the bottom bracket qualifications.