Chandigarh: Andrew Charter put up a superb show under the bar to guide Kalinga Lancers to their second consecutive final of the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) as they prevailed over Uttar Pradesh Wizards 4-3 (4-4) via penalty shootout at the Chandigarh Hockey Stadium here on Saturday.
The match went to the penalty shoot-out after Akashdeep Singh’s 58th goal enabled UP Wizards to equalise after last edition’s runners-up Kalinga, with goals from Devinder Walmiki (ninth), Moritz Furste (35th) and Billy Bakker (46th), mounted a strong comeback following Florent van Aubel’s fourth minute strike.
Australian Charter not only came off with heroics during the regulation play, but also in the penalty shoot-out as Kalinga saw their first two hits of Furste and Adam Dixon wasted thanks to P R Sreejesh and UP Wizards going 2-0 up with clinical conversions from Gonzalo Peillat (penalty stroke) and van Aubel.
Lalit Upadhyay and Aran Zalewski brought Kalinga back in contention in the shoot-out, while Charter denied Ramandeep Singh and Akashdeep. Next, Dharamvir Singh fumbled and as did Sander Baart as the game moved to the sudden death.
Charter then again rescued Kalinga by dismissing Augustin Mazzilli stroke. But then Furste failed again and van Aubel continued to be impressive on the day to make it 3-2. Upadhyay made it 4-3 and Charter ensured that the goal post looks big for Akashdeep, who was denied by the cross-bar. And Zalewski scored past an imposing Sreejesh to trigger wild celebrations in the Kalinga camp, ending UP Wizards’ campaign in the semi-finals for the fourth time in five years.
Furste was at it again in the final minutes of the third quarter with two penalty corner chances but his flicks were defused by first runner Raghunath.
Kalinga, however, managed to take the lead one minute into the fourth and final quarter as a cross from left by Gurjinder Singh was not cleared to safety by goalkeeper P R Sreejesh and Dutchman Bakker grabbed the ball and made a body turn before hitting it to the roof. The goal turned the heat on UP Wizards and Kalinga kept coming at them in their boost to seal the game.
Though their fifth semi-final exit was imminent, but UP Wizards found the equaliser two minutes and six seconds to go. Sander Baart’s drive from the edge of the circle on the right was dealt with a poor clearance and Augustin Mazzilli snatched it before passing into an unmarked Akashdeep, who scored an open goal to take the game to the shoot-out where Kalinga prevailed.
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