Head Coach Paul Gaudoin and young gun Amy Lawton gave their reflections after the Hockeyroos’ 2-2 draw with Japan.
Making her fourth appearance, Lawton scored her first goal for the Hockeyroos in the result that leaves Australia to play off for third in their final match on Wednesday.
After a scoreless first quarter, Japan broke the deadlock four minutes before half time. Kana Nomura doubled just minutes after the interval before Lawton struck from a well worked penalty corner.
The comeback was complete when Kalinidi Commerford scored to level it up, but despite some late pressure and dominance, the Hockeyroos could not find a winner against the host nation.
Tight contest early but again the team was forced to chase the game. That must have been somewhat disappointing but at the same it must have been pleasing with the character the players showed to get back into it?
Paul Gaudoin (PG): “It was pleasing that we were able to fight back and we had chances to win the match in the end, but we’re under no illusions that we need to be starting better and playing at a higher level in the first quarter. Against a quality team like Japan you can’t afford to be sluggish, so it will be a clear focus to start well against whoever we play in our final match tomorrow.”
Is starting well one area that you have identified as a key taking from the three matches you have played so far?
PG: “Certainly our first halves haven’t been as consistent as our second halves right through the three matches and we get an opportunity to work on that again tomorrow. But we certainly need more players to lift. We need more than four or five playing well and that’s a challenge to all of the girls to lift their individual output on the pitch, whether that be the effort, the work rate, the technical clinical skill and the decision making, we need a lift in all of those areas.”
Have you been surprised by the performances and level of the other three teams in the tournament?
PG: “They haven’t surprised me at all. They are quality teams. We played China recently and we know their ability. We’ve played Japan on a number of occasions and know how good they can be, and India we haven’t played since the Commonwealth Games, so we were disappointed not to win that match. So as we’ve known all along this is quality preparation for the Oceania Cup in a couple of weeks.”
How has the time playing and training in the hot conditions benefitted the team during this time in Tokyo?
PG: “What it has shown is what the conditions are going to be like here and that will really help us in terms of our preparation for next year. All of the work that we’re doing but also the general feel of what it’s like playing in hot and humid conditions where we often don’t get to play in that. It allows us to start our planning really well with an understanding that this is what we’re going to face and we’re going to need to be extremely fit in order to perform well.”
Finally, you must be delighted and it must have been exciting for Amy Lawton to score her first goal for the Hockeyroos?
PG: “I’m really pleased for her. She played really well today and executed the penalty corner pretty well and is improving with each match.”
Congratulations on your first Hockeyroos goal. Can you take us through it and the emotion that came with it after you scored?
Amy Lawton (AL): “It’s funny. This morning before our game we had a training session working on penalty corners and I was actually missing quite a few of them. Then in the game we had that same corner and this time I got in the right spot, I received a perfect pass down the line and it took a little deflection and went in. I think I did a little fist pump and then all of the girls got around me which was so nice, so it was pretty awesome to score, especially against the home nation.”
It probably meant even more considering the team was 2-nil down at the time and it triggered the comeback?
AL: “It was a good fightback from the girls. We were disappointed that we couldn’t get the win in the end but I thought bwe were strong on the ball and working hard to get forward. We had a lot of circle entries and the ball a lot of the time in our attacking half, especially in the last quarter.”
You’re only 17 years of age. What have been some of the big learnings for you from this tournament in terms of things you have learnt and being part of this Test Event?
AL: “I think a big thing is getting used to playing in different locations. It is really hot here so it has taken some getting used to. But also the step up in level compared to back home, including the review of games, doing analysis and watching games of the opposition before you play them. I know seeing how other teams play and their styles really helps with my development, so the depth of the preparation has been really good.”
You had made one appearance for the Hockeyroos previously but what has meant to you to be called up and take part in this official pre Olympic tournament?
AL: “I was so stoked when I found out I was in the team. When I got told I was in the car with mum and I was so excited because it’s an awesome privilege to play in this team with these girls, they have been really welcoming and supportive. I had also never been to an Asian country before this so that has been pretty cool. And also to be one of the first teams to play on the turf where the Olympics will be played next year is so cool and I guess drives everyone a bit more to try and perform well. So I have really enjoyed it and am thankful for the opportunity.”
Being part of this team must give you huge motivation to stay in the mix, continue to improve and feature more for the Hockeyroos?
AL: “For sure. For me, finishing school this year, it’s a goal of mine to get into the Hockeyroos squad, but I think for every player here it’s motivation to work that little bit harder to try and get into the team for the Oceania Cup.”
It would be remiss not to ask how your Year 12 studies are going?
AL: “I’m getting there. It’s a bit of a grind but I’ve got to get it done and do the best I can…I’m sure it will all be good.”
Hockeyroos 2 (Lawton 34’, Commerford 54’)
Japan 2 (Aki Mitsuhashi 26’, Kana Nomura 32’)
@ Oi Stadium, Tokyo, Japan