What’s the story?
With a fine comeback victory in the playoff, the Uttar Pradesh Wizards secured a third-place finish in the 2017 edition of Hockey India League. Trailing by two goals in the 36th minute, the UP side turned the tie around through goals from their Argentine duo of Gonzalo Peillat and Agustin Mazzilli.
Roelant Oltmans, who is the coach of the Wizards, expressed his delight at his side’s performance in the post-match press conference and said that his side deserved to go home with a medal for their performances over the league. “The way we bounced back was amazing. We made a few changes in the final quarter and our senior players led from the front to score the all-important goal in the end,” he said.
He revealed how the team got together in the morning before this match following yesterday’s dramatic defeat at the hands of the Kalinga Lancers. “We didn’t have much time after yesterday and were bitterly disappointed. In the meeting today, we knew this may be the last time all of us are together as a team.
“We were honest with each other and the boys showed great mental strength and unity to pull through today,” said the Dutchman.
In case you didn’t know...
The Wizards lost their semi-final yesterday against the Kalinga Lancers 4-3 in a penalty shootout, after it ended 4-4 in regulation time. The Delhi Waveriders had also suffered defeat in the second semifinal, going down to the Dabang Mumbai by a 2-0 margin.
The heart of the matter
Delhi took the lead in the last minute of the first quarter after VR Raghunath deflected Justin Reid-Ross’ cross into his own net. In the 18th minute, the Wizards equalised through Shamsher Singh but two penalty corner conversions from Delhi captain Rupinder Pal Singh in the 24th and 36th minutes saw his side open up a 4-2 lead.
Just two minutes later, it was 4-3 as Gonzalo Peillat converted from a short corner situation. The Wizards piled on the pressure as the match wound to a close and it finally paid off in the end as Agustin Mazzilli pounced on an opportunity from a goalmouth scramble in the 57th minute. Delhi got a late penalty corner in the final minute but it was charged down by the UP rushers.
After the disappointment of a heart-breaking penalty shootout defeat at the hands of the Lancers just one day ago, the Wizards showed great character to bounce back and claim a comeback win against the Waveriders to take the bronze medal home. They were awarded a cheque of Rs 75 lakh for their third-place finish.
UP were deserving winners on the night and despite Delhi’s best defensive efforts, they clinched the victory in the final quarter. It was an enjoyable game of hockey, with end-to-end play and three penalty corner conversions.