Brave Pegasus suffer European penalty heartache
Pegasus had to settle for sixth place at the EuroHockey Club Trophy tournament in Munich yesterday after going down in agonising fashion to Sumchanka of Ukraine, losing 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 draw.
The result signalled belated revenge for the Ukrainians, who had lost 4-3 to their hosts in the final of the second-tier event in Belfast four years ago.
However, Pegasus can look back with some satisfaction at the tournament as a whole, having almost certainly kept Hermes-Monkstown in the same division next year.
The Dubliners defeated Russian side Krylatskoye 3-0 on penalties after a 4-4 draw in the top-flight event in Holland to secure seventh place.
When the two sets of Irish ranking points are added to produce a co-efficient, Ireland should have one team in Division One next season, namely Irish champions UCD, while runners-up Hermes will replace Pegasus in the second tier, subject to European Hockey confirmation later in the week.
Yesterday, the depleted Pegasus side started sluggishly but managed to go in level at 1-1 at half-time after Ireland U21 international Taite Doherty opened the scoring in the 10th minute.
The Ukrainians went ahead early in the second half, but team captain Alex Speers levelled matters from a penalty corner with 10 minutes remaining to force the shoot-out.
However, only Doherty managed to find the target with Michelle Harvey, Ruth Maguire and Stephanie Quinn all unable to convert in the one-on-one ice hockey-style decider.
Speers in particular had a fine tournament, finishing third-highest goalscorer overall with five to her credit, but she had mixed emotions as she reflected on the trip to Germany.
The former Ireland captain said: "We were obviously disappointed with the result and we started very slowly in the first half but we did well to claw our way back and draw level in the final quarter of the game.
"It's been a good trip and, although we were disappointed with the end result after narrowly missing out on the bronze medal play-off, we learned a lot and probably played as well as we have all season."
The next challenge for Pegasus will now be to try and secure a place in Europe the season after next as qualification is retrospective.
They are already planning to strengthen their squad for the new EY Irish Hockey League campaign with their prime target current Irish international Lizzie Colvin, who has returned to the province for a new job after five years playing in Dublin with Loreto.