Seoul: A determined Indian Women's Hockey Team slipped to their first defeat of South Korea Tour as the hosts registered 2-1 victory over the visitors in the third match of the five-match series here at the Jinchun National Athletic Centre on Thursday.
Two goals in the first quarter from South Korea's Seul Ki Cheon (12') and Yurim Lee (14') were enough for the hosts as India's fightback, led by Lalremsiami's goal in the 16th minute, was not enough on the day. The win for South Korea means that India still maintain a 2-1 lead in the five-match series with two matches to play.
Earlier in the day, India looked to continue their winning momentum from the first two matches and were quick off the blocks to put some pressure on the hosts in the midfield as they played with high intensity, however the hosts South Korea were equally commanding in their play as they also found space regularly in India's striking circle. The opening 10 minutes of the first quarter saw both teams play with exuberance but it was South Korea who went ahead in the match when Seul Ki Cheon converted a Penalty Corner in the 12th minute to give her team the lead. Two minutes later, India's defense were beaten again through a PC as Yurim Lee continued her goal-scoring form to make it 2-0 in the 14th minute. Even with the game being balanced in the opening quarter, it was South Korea who ended the first quarter with a two-goal advantage.
India took the field in the second quarter with the intent of making a comeback into the match and were instantly rewarded as foward Lalremsiami found the back of the net in the 16th minute to pull one goal back for the visitors. The Indian team took control of the match and were threatening to find the equalizer but the hosts' defense were also stuck to their task as chances went in vain with the South Korean goalkeeper Heabin Jung making a couple of saves to deny the visitors of finding the second goal before the half-time whistle.
The third quarter of the match saw jitters from both the teams as neither wanted to give the opposing team a firm grip on the game. It was South Korea who had the better chances of scoring in the penultimate quarter as they were awarded three Penalty Corners but failed to convert any of them into a goal as the Indian defense stuck to their tasks with goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu making the saves. It was a crucial period in the match if India were to find the equalizer but the hosts were not going to budge as they maintained their 2-1 lead at the end of the third quarter.
In the final quarter, it was important for India to create significant goal-scoring chances if they were to find the equalizer and maintain their undefeated streak on the South Korea Tour.
During their tour so far, the visitors have thrived under pressure and in demanding circumstances, and had to find a goal once again to earn themselves a hard-fought draw. India kept piling the pressure on the hosts and earned themselves two Penalty Corners in the last four minutes of the match, but credit went to the South Korea goalkeeper Heabin Jung who made two fantastic saves to deny India a way back as South Korea ran away with a 2-1 victory.
Indian Women's Hockey team will play their fourth match of the five match series against South Korea on 9th March, 2018 at 1100hrs IST.