Netherlands qualify for women’s semi-finals

It was ladies day here in Amsterdam, with all 8 teams being in action! Hosts the Netherland’s top Pool A with Belgium leading Pool B heading into a rest day for the women’s teams tomorrow.

Pool A 

Ireland – Scotland 1-0 

Ireland ignited their hopes of a semi-final spot as Naomi Carroll netted a 46th minute winner against Scotland, lifting them up to three points in Pool A. She batted home her 25th international strike but a first goal since June 3rd 2018 – also against Scotland – before her ACL injury left her on the Green Army sidelines until this year. Carroll did not recall that previous strike but was suitably thrilled to be back in the mix on this stage and picking up all the points from a tricky battle in the searing heat. “I thought we started really well, created chances,” was the Cratloe woman’s assessment of the game.

“As long as they held us at 0-0, it does get tougher. You try to stay patient and hope that it will come. But there are times in the past when it didn’t come. We stayed calm, persevered, and got those three points that we were after today.” Sarah Hawkshaw’s driving runs were a feature throughout while Carroll’s nimble feet were always a threat. Anna O’Flanagan was in the thick of things in the first minute from Carroll’s slip pass but Amy Gibson was out quickly to smother the chance.

They had another couple of chances flash across the face of goal but, on the flip side, Scotland was looking dangerous on the counter with McKenzie Bell’s strike a case in point. The second quarter followed a similar pattern with Hawkshaw racing down the right but her cross only got half a touch in front of the goal; a Mullan cross took a Scottish stick and rolled wide. The third quarter brought the first corner chances, Lena Tice and Róisín Upton combining to clear Scotland’s first-up effort from Emily Dark before Ireland could not make full use of the three that came their way.

From the fourth set piece – Hawkshaw again to the fore in its creation – the goal finally came as Carroll snapped up the chance at the second attempt. Róisín Upton’s drag was blocked by the first runner but her Catholic Institute club mate on hand to swipe home a vital goal from mid-circle. Evans came within millimetres of doubling the lead from a Watkins crash ball, meaning a tense finale. But the single goal was enough as Ireland withstood a late onslaught, including a corner with 36 seconds to go, when Amy Costello cracked an effort just wide.

Ireland – Scotland 1-0 (0-0)
46′ 1-0 Naomi Carroll

Umpires: S Bockelmann (GER), I Amorosini (ITA)

Pool B 

Belgium  – Italy 4-0 

The Red Panthers recorded an excellent 4-0 win over Italy to continue their excellent start to the competition with Ambre Ballenghien adding two more goals to her tournament tally in Amstelveen. The first came in the 24th minute when she guided home Stephanie van den Borre’s immaculate delivery from their second penalty corner of the contest. It remained that way until half-time as Belgium made most of the running but could not get by Sofia Montserrat again before the main interval despite a couple more corner efforts. That changed, though, when Emma Puvrez picked out a great angle into the centre to Abi Raye who was able to turn sharply and thump home on her open side.

The third goal was almost a carbon-copy of the first goal, van den Borre again providing the pace and direction for a diving France de Mot to deflect into the goal from the right-hand side. And Ballenghien finished what her side had started when she ripped in a high penalty corner drag-flick in the 54th minute to make it 4-0. There was an element of frustration to their efforts, however, as they hope to land another goal to potentially give them an edge in the goal difference stakes. Vanden Borre, nonetheless, was delighted with the three points.

“We are really happy with the win, for sure. I think we could have scored a few more from the beginning but really happy with our first three points,” she said afterwards. “We had a lot of chances, a lot of circle entries when just the last pass didn’t go to our player and that’s something we can work on. Yesterday, we won a lot of balls [against Germany]. Today, we did the same and it worked and we were quite happy with that performance.” It leaves them needing a draw or better against England in their final group game to reach the semi-finals and Vanden Borre says they will now use their rest day to learn about their next opponents. “We haven’t seen clips of them yet so we don’t know exactly how they play yet but we are going to focus on our game and improve the things we can improve.”

Belgium – Italy 4-0 (1-0)

24’ 1-0 Ambre Ballenghien (PC)

34’ 2-0 Abi Raye (FG)

51’ 3-0 France de Mot (PC)

54’ 4-0 Ambre Ballenghien (PC)

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

Pool B 

England – Germany 0-2  

Germany produced a convincing performance to beat England and move level with Belgium in the race for the semi-finals in Pool B of the Women’s EuroHockey Championship. Sonja Zimmerman’s cracking corner and a peach of a shot from Jette Fleschütz provided the goals and they now have their chances in their own hands, needing just a draw against Italy on Wednesday to advance.

German coach Xavier Reckinger said: “That was a good game and a good improvement compared to yesterday against Belgium. We had to win and for that I demanded passion and emotion from the girls. They absolutely brought that. In addition to a strong defensive performance, it was also a step up offensively but there is certainly more that can be done and I now hope that against Italy. Unfortunately, the processes at corners are not yet correct. But overall the plan worked out well today.”

England started with a lot of speed and twice tested Julia Sonntag but Die Danas soon fought their way into the game and when Fiona Crackles was sent to the bin, they pounced, winning the first corner which Zimmerman was able to fire home in the eighth minute. Further corner chances came along but none accrued any further advantage in the first quarter. Pia Maertens twice drew good saves from Maddie Hinch but the goalkeeper could not stop Charlotte Stapenhorst’s effort. After a long review, however, the goal was disallowed due to backstick.

Germany continued in the ascendancy after half-time with Maertens’ 3D dribbling causing problems and then Fleschütz unleashed an absolute rocket that was too quick for Hinch’s clutches. Reckinger’s side ended up running up eight corners and they were assured in the lead even though England swapped out their goalkeeper for the closing phaes. A yellow card for Crackles, however, stunted their progress and it was the Germans who had the best chance to score again – Maertens unable to finish off a counter-attack into the unguarded net.

England – Germany 0-2 (0-1)

8’ 0-1 Sonja Zimmerman (PC)

32’ 0-2 Jette Fleschütz (FG)

Umpires: A Keogh (IRL), Y Makar (CRO)

Pool A

Spain – Netherlands 1-7 

The Netherlands became the first side to qualify for the women’s EuroHockey Championship semi-finals as they ran up a magnificent seven against Spain at the Wagener Stadium. It means the Dutch have now dismissed the 2018 World Cup silver and bronze medal sides by an aggregate of 11-1 in their two group games. Spain had made a positive start, winning a couple of corners and making much of the early running. Maria Lopez had a powerful shot deflected while her namesake Maria Verschoor – at the far end – hit the outside of the post.

But they were rocked when Eva de Goede broke the deadlock. Her first shot had been saved off the line but was not fully cleared and she picked it up near the left baseline and ripped an intended cross which took a heavy stick off a defensive stick for 1-0. And the pattern continued into the second quarter with Spain pressing, winning a corner but conceding almost immediately. Pien Dicke’s amazing block set in motion a six on three attack which de Goede and Stella van Gils worked into the path of Frédérique Matla who lifted the ball over Maria Ruiz to make it 2-0.

From there, the Dutch took more and more control and duly moved three clear courtesy of Lauren Stam’s penalty corner drag-flick. And from there, they never really looked back with Caia van Maasakker dragging a corner shot into the top corner. De Goede picked out a perfect pass to Matla from halfway into the circle where she smashed a reverse into the goal. And Matla then finished off her hat trick with a simple finish from a baseline cross; 6-0 at three-quarter time. Felice Albers cracked home another with five minutes to go to put them seven clear.

But Laura Barrios got what might a crucial goal in the closing minutes when she produced a remarkable piece of control in mid-air before tipping in. Vitally, it keeps them ahead of Ireland on goal difference going into their showdown on Wednesday. “This was a good game for us, our second of the tournament,” Matla said of the performance. “There was a lot of things that we did well today. We will look at the game and then see what we can do even better but we are happy with the three points.”

Spain – Netherlands 1-7 (0-3)

14’ 0-1 Eva de Goede (FG)

19’ 0-2 Frédérique Matla (FG)

27’ 0-3 Lauren Stam (PC)

35’ 0-4 Caia van Maasakker (PC)

42’ 0-5 Frédérique Matla (FG)

43’ 0-6 Frédérique Matla (FG)

55’ 0-7 Felice Albers (FG)

56’ 1-7 Laura Barrios (FG)