MENDOZA, Argentina (AP) – Luciana Aymar bowed out of international field hockey a winner Sunday as Argentina beat Australia 3-1 in a penalty shootout in the final of the Women’s Champions Trophy.
Aymar, the midfielder and captain regarded as the best women’s player ever, converted the first of Argentina’s penalties as the home side claimed its sixth Champions Trophy title, matching the record previously shared by Australia and the Netherlands. Argentina was playing in its seventh consecutive Trophy final and Aymar has appeared in all six of its tournament victories.
Goalkeeper Belen Succi was Argentina’s hero Monday, making two spectacular saves to deny Australia in the shootout after the teams were tied 1-1 all fulltime.
Kathryn Slattery put Australia ahead in the 35th minute when she diverted a back flick from Mathilda Carmichael into the goal from point blank range. Argentina replied from a penalty corner four minutes later when Noel Barrionuevo’s powerful drive into the box was steered home by Florencia Habif.
Australia was the better team in normal time, holding 58 percent of possession and forcing two penalties corners to one but Argentina was able to hold on to force the penalty shootout.
Aymar calmly put her team ahead 1-0, taking the ball goalward and then driving a powerful shot past goalkeeper Ashlee Wells.
Australia chose the same five players to take penalties who were involved in their 3-0 penalty shootout win over New Zealand in the semifinals. Georgia Nanscowen, who missed her shot in that match, missed again Monday, giving Argnetina the early advantage. Carla Rebecchi increased that advantage when she scored for a 2-0 lead before captain Casey Eastham, under immense pressure, scored to make it 2-1. Silvina D’Elia put Argentina 3-1 up and Succi made the advantage decisive when she saved a shot from Karri McMahon.
Delfina Merino missed her shot for Argentina, keeping Australia’s hopes alive, but Succi clinched Argentina’s win with a miraculous reverse stick save off Emily Smith.
Earlier, the Netherlands beat New Zealand 2-1 in the bronze medal match.