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Malta girls go down fighting against Israel in qualifiers

MALTA 6

ISRAEL 19

(0-3, 3-5, 2-6,1-5)

MALTA

S. Desjardins, N. Azzopardi, K. Agius 2, K. Navarro 1, M. Perici Ferrante, L. Cachia, F. Paolella, S. Camilleri, D. Micallef 3, R. Caruana Dingli, Z. Bartolo, A. Bonello, A. Amato.

ISRAEL

A. Peres, T. Levi 1, D. Namakshtansky 1, M. Bogachenko 2, M. Lindhout 5, A. Yaacobi 2, Y. Farkash 1, D. Menakerman 3, E. Tal, N. Sasover 2, N. Hochberg 2, R. Gazit, E. Burda.

Refs: Maria Daskaloplou (Greece), A. Hossche (Belgium).

Malta’s last act in the European Championship qualifying round Group C matches turned out to be an honourable performance, never mind a defeat at the hands of a clearly superior Israel side yesterday.

Stephanie Desjardins distinguished herself again with a string of fine saves before handing over custody to Alexia Amato, while Denise Micallef scored a hat-trick as Kendra Navarro worked hard besides netting a brace.

Coming up against a Maltese team still without a point in the tournament, the already-qualified Israel, already fancied their chances of bagging a record win.

But the hosts had other ideas as they managed to frustrate the tournament winners with some stout defending.

Anthony Farrugia’s girls opted for possession tactics and, at first they succeeded in frustrating their opponents with some sound defensive play and again excellent goalkeeping from Desjardins.

After a slow start to the match, Israel grew in stature and soon started scoring at regular intervals, to win the first session 3-0.

In the second quarter, Malta regained their composure and fought bravely to reduce the margin against the Israeli.

Midway through the second session, Malta broke their duck with a powerful long-range shot by Denise Micallef and soon after Martha Perici Ferrante could have added another goal but her shot hit the frame.

Micallef trimmed the gap further to 7-2. And with 15 seconds to go in the second session, Kendra Navarro kept her composure to make it 8-3.

Israel stormed to a commanding 11-3 lead early in the third session. But the Maltese girls felt they still had something to prove and managed to score twice in quick succession through Kaia Agius and Micallef.

But there was no way of stopping Israel as they led 14-5 before the start of the last session.

In the final quarter, Malta fought bravely to reduce the margin as Agius scored her second goal of the match.

Still Israel, with few fringe players, ended the match strongly to win 19-6 and seal top spot in the tournament.

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