A Renee Taylor brace has surged the Hockeyroos into the semi-finals of the FIH Women’s World Cup.
The Hockeyroos have celebrated Jane Claxton’s 200th international by booking a World Cup semi final blockbuster against reigning World Cup champions the Netherlands after eliminating host nation Spain 2-0 in Terrassa.
Both goals came from the stick of Renee Taylor on the night her teammate and good friend Claxton reached the significant individual milestone.
Taylor produced two quality drag flicks to put the Hockeyroos into their eighth World Cup semi final from the past nine editions of the tournament.
Facing a Spain team buoyed on by their home crowd, the Hockeyroos had the perfect start as they struck inside three minutes.
Steph Kershaw won the match’s first penalty corner and Taylor stepped up to put her drag flick expertly between Spain goalkeeper Georgina Oliva and Xantal Gine, the ball thundering into the backboard.
The goal was Taylor’s first since September 2019 and marked the midfielder’s successful return after she recovered from major hip surgery.
Heading into the match, Hockeyroos Head Coach Katrina Powell was wary of Spain’s speed and potency on the counter attack, but as the Hockeyroos have done all tournament, they remained defensively resolute as the home side looked for a quick response.
Hockeyroos goalkeeper Jocelyn Bartram made a magnificent save low down from a Spain penalty corner, the shot stopper required again later in the first quarter to deny the hosts.
With stakes high, both teams had players receive green cards (2 minutes off the pitch) early in the second quarter.
Desperate Spain defending prevented the Hockeyroos from doubling their advantage just before half time as the Hockeyroos amassed seven shots to three in the opening 30 minutes.
The Hockeyroos’ second goal and sealer came in the 41st minute when the Australians were awarded another penalty corner when Rosie Malone was struck on the hand by a high ball inside the circle.
Again it was Taylor to the fore, the 25-year-old connecting with her drag flick superbly as she angled her unstoppable effort into the corner of the net.
Staring down the barrel of defeat, Spain took off their goalkeeper for the last four minutes to give themselves an extra outfield player.
But the Hockeyroos’ resilience shone out as they recorded their third clean sheet of the tournament to progress to the last four.
“What an achievement…200 games and in a World Cup quarter-final as well, I’m so glad we could step it up and play the way Jane does,” said an ecstatic Taylor, who was named the Player of the Match.
“Hard, competitive and giving it our all…congratulations on 200 games Jane…we are stoked.”
The Hockeyroos’ semi final against the world number one ranked Netherlands will be played at 2.30am AEST on Sunday 17 July (6.30pm local time, Saturday 16 July). The other semi final is between Germany and Argentina.
Hockeyroos 2 (Taylor 3’/41’)
@ Terrassa Olympic Stadium, Spain
Hockeyroos: 1.Claire Colwill, 2.Rosie Malone, 4.Amy Lawton, 6.Penny Squibb, 10.Maddy Fitzpatrick, 12.Greta Hayes, 13.Hattie Shand, 14.Steph Kershaw, 15.Kaitlin Nobbs, 18.Jane Claxton, 19.Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 20.Karri Somerville, 21.Renee Taylor, 24.Mariah Williams, 28.Hannah Cullum-Sanders, 29.Rebecca Greiner, 30.Grace Stewart (c)
Unused substitute: 7.Aleisha Power (gk)
With thanks Hockey Australia.