Lalremruati scores for Punjab in the only competitive match of the day

The quarterfinals of the National women’s hockey championship played out on expected lines here on Sunday.

Three of the four teams reaching the semifinals — Railways, Jharkhand and Haryana — won their games by comfortable margins.

The fourth team, Punjab, was lucky to advance, getting past a fighting Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy (MPHA) 2-1 at the Guru Govind Singh Sports College.

In the process, Punjab also avenged its loss to MPHA last year, in a penalty shootout, at the same stage.

In the semifinals, Railways will clash with Jharkhand while Haryana will play Punjab. The final may well end up being a repeat of 2012, when Railways beat Haryana for the title. On form, though, Jharkhand is capable of causing an upset and Railways would do well to be cautious.

The only competitive game of the day was Punjab vs MPHA, and the teams looked set for an encore before Lalremruati scored her and the team’s second goal in the dying minutes of the game. Till then, Punjab had looked a team in disarray, unable to find the target upfront.

The fact that Punjab missed at least four open chances to score, messed up an equal number of penalty corners and even wasted a penalty stroke — and still came out victorious — may make it look like it was the dominant team, but the teams were evenly matched on the ground.

The MPHA girls played an intelligent game. Preeti scored the opening goal for MPHA, minutes after Punjab’s Monika had hit a penalty stroke wide. With Reena Khokhar and Reena Katariya combining well to create several chances upfront, the MPHA girls were accurate with their short passes but could not break through the Punjab defence.

Earlier, Jharkhand muscled past Karnataka — impressive in the league stages for its energetic game, but strangely lethargic on the day — 7-1 while Haryana managed to beat Sports Authority of India 4-1 despite a valiant fightback from SAI in the second half.

The first match of the day saw star-studded Railways predictably thrash Uttar Pradesh 6-1. Jasjeet Kaur got two goals.

The results (quarterfinals):

Railways 6 (Jasjeet Kaur 2, Amandeep Kaur, Roselin Dung Dung, Laurenua Kerketta, Binita Xess) bt UP 1 (Pratibha Chaudhary).

Haryana 4 (Jyoti Sharma, Narinder, Monika Dahiya, Bharti) bt SAI 1 (Binita Kindo).

Jharkhand 7 (Sarita Lakra 2, Shilwanti Minjur 2, Ebha Kerketta, Mukta Mundu, Nisha Rani Aind) bt Karnataka 1 (Chaitra KC).

Punjab 2 (Lalremruati 2) bt MPHA 1 (Preeti).

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