Final day of group stages is drama-filled

Spain will meet Germany and the Netherlands will take on Belgium in the Women’s EuroHockey Championship semi-finals on Friday following a drama-filled final day of the group stages. Belgium left it incredibly late to get the point they required against England, denying Mark Hager’s side a place in the final four for the first time in the competition’s history. Spain, meanwhile, got the draw they needed against Ireland to edge through on “goals scored” ahead of the Green Army. Germany and the Netherlands had a bit more to spare as they topped their respective groups.

Pool A

Ireland – Spain 1 – 1

Spain got the draw they needed to qualify for the women’s EuroHockey Championships semi-finals, denying Ireland a first trip to that stage following their 1-1 draw. In the end, Spain went through on goals scored, their last goal against the Netherlands in a 7-1 defeat proving vital as it got them level with Ireland on goal difference. For Ireland, only a win would do and they got off to a dream start when Naomi Carroll won a penalty corner which Róisín Upton dragged into the bottom corner. Spain, though, were back on terms in the 12th minute. It was a slick piece of work, a stepover gifting Maria Lopez time to pick out Begoña Garcia at the injector’s spot and she swept home from close range.

It became an absorbing contest after that with Spain enjoying the majority of the ball and looking to press on while Ireland went into a counter-attack mode. It meant precious few chances between the second and third quarters with the greens not overly troubled during spells down to 10 players to a couple of green cards, likewise Spain when Lucia Jimenez went to the sin-bin. Ayeisha McFerran got a strong stick to deny Lola Riera just before the end of the third quarter, keeping the tie very much up in the air for a high octane final 15 minutes.

Lopez’s heavily deflected shot clattered off the post and fell invitingly for Hawkshaw to start a brilliant counter which culminated in Anna O’Flanagan earning Ireland’s second corner. Shirley McCay’s shot, though, was well dealt with by the Spanish defence. Upton produced some heroics to clean up a huge Spanish chance while McFerran swept up three more chances to keep hopes alive as Spain looked the more likely to get another goal but it never came and Spain went through.

Ireland – Spain 1-1 (1-1)

2’ 1-0 Róisín Upton (PC)

12’ 1-1 Begoña Garcia (PC)

Umpires: L Delforge (BEL), I Amorosini (ITA)

Netherlands –  Scotland 10-0

Already assured of top spot, the Netherlands put on a show for their home crowd with a third comprehensive win of Pool A. The Dutch took little time to get up and running with Eva de Goede scoring from the second phase of a penalty corner with a smart low flick into the right corner. The next two goals came in a similar fashion with de Goede cleaning up after Caia van Maasakker’s corner flick hit the bar and Marloes Keetels slotted the third, also from a corner follow-up.

The second quarter was scoreless with Scotland defending well but the Dutch found their scoring form in the third quarter. Frédérique Matla added another corner goal before Keetels got the first formally from open play with a neat lift over the goalkeeper. Maria Verschoor added another couple either side of one from her Amsterdam club mate Felice Albers and she completed her hat trick in the 49th minute. Matla made it double figures from the penalty spot with four minutes to go.

Netherlands – Scotland 10-0 (3-0)

4’ 1-0 Eva de Goede (PC)

12′ 2-0 Eva de Goede (PC)

15′ 3-0 Marloes Keetels (PC)

31′ 4-0 Frédérique Matla (PC)

36′ 5-0 Marloes Keetels (FG)

42′ 6-0 Maria Verschoor (FG)

42′ 7-0 Felice Albers (FG)

47′ 8-0 Maria Verschoor (FG)

49′ 9-0 Maria Verschoor (FG)

56′ 10-0 Frédérique Matla (PS)

Umpires:Y Makar (CRO), S Bockelmann (GER)

Pool B

Germany – Italy 4-0

Germany got the win they needed to copper-fasten their place in the semi-finals as they proved too strong for Italy, making it seven points out of nine. Needing at least a draw to make extra sure of their place in the semis, they got off to a cracking start when Pia Maertens broke through in the D and while her shot was saved, Jette Fleschütz picked off her second goal of the tournament from the rebound.

They were largely on top for the remainder of the first half but the Italians were resolute with their new look side showing signs of gelling. But they fell further behind in the second half when Anne Schröder’s shot took a big deflection off a defender and hit the post. It wrong-footed many of those around but Charlotte Stapenhorst was in prime position to catch the ball and volley it in. Nike Lorenz put them further out of sight when she took advantage of an unset Italian defence at corner time to make it 3-0 at three quarter time.

And Amelie Wortmann added an extra flourish to the scoreline when she slotted in the fourth goal from Lena Micheel’s pull-back with six minutes to go. Speaking afterward, goalkeeper Julia Sonntag said: “We didn’t allow anything defensively; they had some dangerous long balls where we had to be wide awake. “It is important to be more effective in front of goal and we have to work on that. Otherwise, we dominated them and showed our best hockey.”

Germany – Italy 4-0 (1-0)

4’ 1-0 Jette Fleschütz (FG)

33’ 2-0 Charlotte Stapenhorst (FG)

42’ 3-0 Nike Lorenz (PC)

54’ 4-0 Amelie Wortmann (FG)

Umpires: Y van Slooten (NED), A Bogolyubova (RUS)

Belgium – England 1-1

Stephanie Vanden Borre’s dramatic 59th minute corner goal earned Belgium a third ever appearance in the women’s EuroHockey Championships as they snatched a late draw against England. Indeed, all the major moments came with 180 seconds of the finish with England only taking the lead a minute earlier from a Giselle Ansley corner of their own. It was a contest dominated by tight defences with chances at an absolute premium, a tie in which England needed a win to advance with Belgium only requiring a draw.

The first half’s biggest – and only chance of note – fell to Belgium as Charlotte Englebert’s brilliant run fell to the stick of Ambre Ballenghien whose powerful shot flashed across the face of goal. After that, Belgium largely held sway in the possession stakes and had more of the territory but Holly Pearne-Webb and her cohorts gave away precious little. Indeed, neither side was able to secure a penalty corner, the only hint of one for Belgium overturned by a video review.

Into the second half, Abi Raye was set through by Emma Puvrez’s big punt forward but she was out-foxed by Maddie Hinch who held her ground and delayed the chance before the cohorts arrived to clear the danger. It left the game on a knife-edge going into the final quarter, England still chasing that pivotal goal. They went close in the 48th minute with their first shot on target, Ansley’s low push batted away by Stephanie Vanden Borre on the goal line. They looked to have their golden goal when Ansley’s second corner shot in the 58th minute found its target with a satisfying thud on the backboard. But they could not hold out as the Red Panthers went straight up the far end and won a corner, which was then reset, and Vanden Borre had the power in her sweep shot to beat Hinch under her elbow.

Judith Vandermieren had to sit out the vital moments with a green card but was thrilled with her side’s success: “A really tight game; we knew that it was going to be a close one. When I got my green card, I was already a bit desperate on the bench but I think the resilience we showed to get that goal in the last two minutes really shows we have grown as a team. The team two years ago would have dropped the heads so I am super proud of our performance. The reaction from the team, I tried to put as much energy to get the belief we could get that last goal. To get it from our one penalty corner was just the moment.”

Belgium – England 1-1 (0-0)

58’ 0-1 Giselle Ansley

59’ 1-1 Stephanie Vanden Borre

Umpires: S Wilson (SCO), M Meister (GER)