EHL: Gantoise Struggle to Turn Possession into Goals

Despite a large domination against their Spanish opponents, the Belgian champions did not finish on the podium. A solid disappointment that will have to be quickly digested to set out to conquer a new title next May.

Frank Uijlenbroek / WORLDSPORTPICS / EHL
Frank Uijlenbroek / WORLDSPORTPICS / EHL

For their very first participation at EHL, the Flandrians have shown that they are clearly in their place in the last European four. And this despite the big disappointment after the defeat against the Spanish Junior FC (2-1). Kevan Demartinis’ players dominated the whole of the 60 minutes but they conceded 2 pc which cost them dearly and they clearly lacked bite in the closing zone. Yet this opponent was well within their reach given the performance offered on Saturday in the semi-final against Den Bosch and his eleven Dutch internationals. But the injuries of its two internationals, Alix Gerniers and Stephanie Vanden Borre, weighed far too heavily in the balance and Ghent never found the way to surprise their opponent.

From the start of the debates, the match was one-sided. The Belgian champions monopolized the ball and controlled the game by pressing high. But during the first quarter of an hour, they only got one chance with a penalty from Ambre Ballenghien pushed back and a rebound from Anne-Sophie Vanden Borre pushed back by the Spanish goalkeeper. But in the 19th minute, it was a cold shower with the opener for Junior via Berta Serrahima on their first penalty and especially their first shot on goal of the game. The reaction was immediate but the Flandriennes lacked precision in the last gesture. But, two minutes before the return to the locker room, on the 4th Ghent penalty, Anne-Sophie Vanden Borre put the 2 teams equal on a perfectly executed phase.

Detrimental absences

In the second half, the Gantoise dominated in a sterile way and with the exception of a badly negotiated penalty, there was not much to put in their mouths. But Junior struck, again, when no one expected it. And in the 47th minute, the Spaniards regained control on a penalty phase concluded by Maialen Garcia. The Flandriennes were therefore going to have to work twice as hard to get this coveted medal. But, despite a lot of goodwill, the possibilities were few and the score did not move.

The disappointment was therefore enormous on the side of captain Barbara Nelen and the teammates. “We deserved to win this duel given our domination. The absences of Alix and Stephanie hurt a lot even though everyone played very well. These are 2 key players who bring real added value. But we took two avoidable goals which cost us dearly. We have to learn from this weekend and learn lessons for the future. The disappointment of missing out on this bronze medal should help us to seek a new title of Belgian champion on 7 May. »

AMSTELVEEN Euro Hockey League Finals 2021-2022 23 Bronze: Gantoise HC v Junior FC Picture: Julia Strappato. WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK

To achieve this, the Gantoise can count, once again, on Alix Gerniers who will be back in the team, next Sunday, for the last day of the championship and the match at Racing. Regarding Stephanie Vanden Borre, it will be necessary to wait until Tuesday to be definitively fixed on the seriousness of the injury. But one thing is certain, Ghent has only one objective left over the next few weeks, which is the title, given its unchallenged domination over the whole season.

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