Amsterdam Wins EHL After Shoot-out Thriller Against Den Bosch
For the fifteenth time in history, Amsterdam has become club champion of Europe. On Monday afternoon, Robert Tigges’ team recorded a beautiful victory over arch-rival Den Bosch in the Euro Hockey League final, by winning the shoot-out series after regular time had ended in 2-2. Just like in the quarterfinals, there was a hero role for Anne Veenendaal, who took three shoot-outs.
When attacker Noor Omrani – who became world champion last Tuesday with the Dutch Juniors – took and missed the fifth shoot-out from Den Bosch, all players from Amsterdam rushed towards goalkeeper Anne Veenendaal. Once again she was the queen of the shoot-outs, this time in a head-to-head battle with Josine Koning, her teammate at the Dutch national team. It was the final piece of a beautiful fight, in which Amsterdam cleared a deficit twice. For large parts of the game it seemed that Den Bosch would win, but just like this entire Euro Hockey League, Amsterdam turned out to have a huge dose of fighting spirit.
In the history of the European Cup, it was the fifth time that the arch-rivals faced each other: three times the two teams met in the semi-finals and once in the final (2014). Amsterdam won that final battle via shoot-outs.
This time Den Bosch was the favorite in advance. Although Den Bosch was on the easier side of the schedule, hockey made it to the final quite easily with victories over Pegasus from Ireland (9-0) and Gantoise from Belgium (2-0). Amsterdam, on the other hand, had just two tough games in the legs. Both in the quarterfinals against Club de Campo Madrid (win after shoot-outs) and in the semifinals against the Spanish Junior (2-1) Robert Tigges’ team had to go to the extreme, although Amsterdam did draw a lot of confidence from that , given the fighting spirit it put on the mat.
The game on Monday afternoon was only five minutes away when Den Bosch grabbed the arch-rival by the throat. Joosje Burg and Laura Nunnink put a lot of pressure on Maria Verschoor, who lost the ball. Via Burg the ball went to Noor Omrani, who served Frédérique Matla with a smart band hand pass. She scored the 1-0 with a flats.
After a strong first quarter by Den Bosch, the thoughts went to a simple victory for Marieke Dijkstra’s team, but the game picture suddenly changed when Amsterdam decided in the second quarter to put high pressure on instead of playing half-court. It was a good choice, because in the back Den Bosch then piled error after error. Deep in the half of Den Bosch, the ball landed via a Bossche stick at Noor Omrani, who dribbled to the back line and gave up to talent Filiz Tuzgöl, who was completely free at the far post. With a tip-in she made the 1-1 on behalf of Amsterdam.
Then Amsterdam also got a huge chance at the 1-2. Again the ball ended up in the stick of Noor de Baat, who ran out of defender Sanne Koolen and played in Maria Verschoor from the back line. She shot at goal from close range, but with a nice save with her glove, keeper Josine Koning prevented Amsterdam from taking a lead. When Verschoor put the ball on the foot of Pien Sanders moments later, Amsterdam also got a penalty corner, the first of the game. But due to Michelle Fillet’s injury, the team is missing a drag specialist; Sabine Plönissen’s flats were evicted.
What followed was a beautiful hockey fight. In the second quarter, Den Bosch regained its grip and made it 2-1. Through a bad pass from Floor de Haan, Margot van Geffen was able to pick up the ball in midfield. She sprinted past several players from Amsterdam at speed, after which she served Frédérique Matla from the back line, who shot in at the far post.
When Den Bosch also dominated at the beginning of the third quarter, it seemed to be waiting for the final blow of the Bossche Bazen, but it was precisely Amsterdam that scored the equalizer (2-2). This was based on De Haan, who reached attacker Fay van der Elst from the center line with a high ball. The goal that followed was brilliant. Van der Elst plucked the ball from the air, sprinted into the circle, turned away from Rosa Fernig and shot the ball wonderfully into the far corner.
Den Bosch was also the most dangerous team in the fourth quarter. One and a half minutes before the end, De Haan got the ball on her foot and Den Bosch received a penalty corner, but the video referee reversed that decision because of a stick tackle that had taken place just before.
Time ticked by and moments later Amsterdam thought they were getting a penalty corner, when Laura Nunnink seemed to deliberately tap Van der Elst’s stick outside the circle, but the video referee stopped that too. Instead, Amsterdam got a free hit outside the circle, but that didn’t work.
Then Matla put the ball on Van der Elst’s foot and it was Den Bosch that was allowed to take a penalty corner, with 00.00 on the clock. At the head of the circle, Matla had a goal and with that the victory on her stick, but the variant did not work out well and Amsterdam managed to defend. Shoot-outs then had to make a decision. Mentally, Amsterdam had an advantage, as Tigges’ team had already won the quarterfinals via shoot-outs.
After an early miss by Felice Albers, the shoot-outs initially seemed to favor Den Bosch. But Den Bosch missed three times via Van Geffen, Lidewij Welten and Noor Omrani. As a result, Amsterdam eventually triumphed.
Den Bosch – Amsterdam 2-2 (2-1)
5. Frédérique Matla 1-0
18. Filiz Tuzgöl 1-1
25. Frédérique Matla 2-1
40. Fay van der Elst 2-2
*wins after shoot-outs
Pien Sanders hit 1-0
Felice Albers hit 1-0
Frédérique Matla hit 2-0
Maria Verschoor hit 2-1
Margot van Geffen hit 2-1
Floor de Haan hit 2-2 (sb)
Lidewij Welten hit 2-2
Noor de Baat hit 2-3
Noor Omrani miss 2-3