In a match that was too close to be decided in regular time, Australia has successfully secured their 15thChampions Trophy, defeating India 3-2 in shootouts on Monday morning in Breda, Netherlands.
The Kookaburras found themselves tied with India 1-1 at full time and, in a repeat of the 2016 Champions Trophy, a heroic effort by goalkeeper Tyler Lovell saw the Australian’s secure their 15th and the final, Champions Trophy.
Goals were hard to come by throughout the match but Blake Govers was able to find the back of the net with a powerful flick off of a penalty corner in the 24th minute of the match. The only other goal prior to shootouts went to India’s Vivek Prasad by way off deflection in the 42nd minute.
When the match went to shootouts it was clear that Tyler Lovell would be key to the Kookaburras victory. He performed magnificently, allowing just a single goal to Manpreet Singh.
Australia’s offensive weapons were damaging from the first shot. Co-captain Aran Zalewski opened the account with a strong blow that Indian keeper Sreejesh Parattu never had a chance of stopping, Daniel Beale then lifted a shot over the keepers stick and it was Jeremy Edwards who secured the Champions Trophy with some fantastic stick work in font of goals.
Head Coach Colin Batch praised the Kookaburras gritty defence after the match.
“It’s a nice win for us. It was a tough game and India played really well. We started well and then lost the momentum when India scrambled back into the game. It was a pretty tight affair in the second half so for us to defend as well as we did was impressive.”
Not only winning the Champions Trophy itself, a number of Kookaburras also earned themselves individual awards on Monday morning. Head Coach Colin Batch was named Coach of the Tournament by the International Federation of Hockey (FIH), Jake Harvie took away the FIH Rising Star award and Aran Zalewski was honoured with the FIH Player of the Tournament award.
Batch was pleased to see youngster Jake Harvie acknowledged for his hard work.
“I think Jake [Harvie] has come a long way. He keeps improving and we see this as a transition period for him. I think moving forward he’ll be a really important player for us.”
In the Kookaburras first tournament without Mark Knowles, since his retirement in April, co-captains Eddie Ockenden and Aran Zalewski stood up and were among Australia’s best for the entire Champions Trophy campaign. This was Ockenden’s seventh Champions Trophy and Australia’s 15th.
Batch lauded his co-captains leadership after the match.
“We gave Aran the co-leadership with Eddie Ockenden and both of them led the team very well. We’re really pleased with their leadership. Most importantly with the leadership is that they still both performed well.”
After an impressive second half and some amazing defence in shootouts, Tyler Lovell certainly had the coach’s eye.
“He [Tyler Lovell] had a good performance in the shootouts, they only got one out of the four shots and he was very dominant there. Towards the end of the game he made some critical saves at one-all. He’s a hard working goalkeeper and I’m pleased to see him get some reward and play so well for us in a final.”
After the match Lovell himself spoke to Australia’s efforts.
“We wanted to win this, it’s a massive tournament for us and we’re very proud of our history in it. So to win it is just awesome.
“We were consistent throughout the tournament, we only lost one game and we got better and better as the tournament went on so I think it all adds up. At the end of the day we’ve got a good young group, after Rio we had a bit of a shakeup and we’re going in the right direction.”
Monday morning’s win adds a record shattering 15th Champions Trophy to the Kookaburras cabinet. In recent months the Kookaburras have won the Champions Trophy, the Commonwealth Games and the World League Final.
This was the final iteration of the Champions Trophy which will now be replaced by the FIH Pro league from 2019.
All eyes now turn to the Men’s World Cup in November.
Australia 1(3) (Govers 24’) – Shootouts (Zalewski, Beale, Edwards)
India 1 (1) (Prasad 42’) – Shootouts (Manpreet)