Belgium women hit 7 against New Zealand, Great Britain men go top of table with win over Spain
FIH Hockey Pro League action continued in London and Antwerp with 4 men’s and 4 women’s teams in action. Great Britain and Belgium women, who had started their home mini-tournaments with losses, gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about today. GB women survived a USA comeback to earn all three points in a 4-2 win, while the Red Panthers were on fire to dispatch New Zealand 7-0 in a near perfect performance. In the men’s matches Great Britain won a second consecutive match by a 3-0 scoreline, heading to the top of the table going 2 points clear of India. The Red Lions continued their good form winning 3-1 against New Zealand men, who continue to languish at the bottom of the men’s table.
(Women’s) Great Britain vs USA 4-2
Great Britain scored twice inside the opening 10 minutes by forcing turnovers high up the field. Fiona Crackles broke into the circle and smashed a shot past Bing in the USA goal, in the 4th minute and Hamilton doubled GB’s lead in the 10th minute from a powerful shot from the right that deflected into the goal off Govaert’s stick. Watson added a third in the second quarter, but USA scored twice through Tamer and Ashley Sessa to spark a comeback. Watson however scored on the brink of half-time to double the hosts lead going into the break.
After the frantic end to the first half, the second half promised a lot but ended up being anti-climactic, as neither team could trouble the scorers. USA threw everything they had and came close to scoring a couple of occasions in the final quarter but GB managed to hold on to their 2-goal half-time lead until the very end and earned crucial three points.
Charlotte Watson was awarded player of the match and said: “Important win for us after losing the first game. We played well overall today, although I felt we had played well against Germany in the previous game as well, so it’s good to come away with a win. There were some loose spells at times in the game, but overall we controlled the tempo pretty well.”
(Women’s) Belgium vs New Zealand 7-0
Belgium came flying out of the gate after losing their home opener a couple of days back and got two early goals inside 7 minutes. The first came from a deflection by Marien off a Struijk shot, while Struijk scored the second from a penalty corner, going low to the right of the keeper and sneaking it just inside the post. Belgium had plenty of chances to increase their lead, particularly from an Englebert shot that whizzed just past the post and from a string of penalty corners, but the score stayed at 2-0 heading into the break.
Englebert, who had looked threatening all game long, finally scored the third for the Red Panthers receiving the ball from White and dropping her shoulder to commit the goalkeeper before taking an extra step and burying the ball into an open goal. Belgium added a fourth in the final quarter with Marien’s cross deflecting into the goal off Liz Thompson’s stick. New Zealand removed their keeper with 9 minutes left in the game and Belgium added two more goals through White and Versavel to make it 6-0. New Zealand brought their keeper back on for the final 4 minutes, but it made little difference as White scored yet again through a piece of individual brilliance.
Charlotte Englebert was awarded the player of the match and said: “Good win for us after that opening day loss. The crowd here has been fantastic and thankfully we could put up a show for them.”
(Men’s) Great Britain vs Spain 3-0
GB and Spain played a goalless opening quarter but there was no lack of action with each side creating at least two clear goal-scoring opportunities each. Ward and Mirallas missed the target from penalty corners while Payne and Alvarez pulled off great saves from point blank range as well. The second quarter produced much of the same with both teams trading blows, but neither finding the opening goal as we headed into the break tied at 0-0.
GB opened the scoring early in the third quarter with Nicolas Bandurak finding the back of the goal through a penalty corner. Spain threw everything they had at GB but couldn’t find a way past their defence in the third quarter. Any chances of continuing the momentum for Spain was lost in the final quarter thanks to two yellow cards collected by Curiel and Pepe Cunill. With a little over 2 minutes left in the game GB won a penalty corner and Bandurak put the game beyond the reach of Spain by slinging a powerful flick to the left of the goalkeeper. Spain took their keeper off in a last ditch effort to get back into the game but It was GB who scored through an incredible run and finish by Lee Morton.
Zach Wallace was awarded player of the match and said: “Really tired at the end of that game. Spain are such a tough team to play against with their counter-attacking style. The one goal lead was never going to be enough, so glad we could get a couple more in the end to calm the nerves.”
(Men’s) Belgium vs New Zealand 3-1
Belgium and New Zealand traded blows throughout the first quarter and while Belgium had the better of the chances, neither team could find the opener. Midway through the second quarter though, Cosyns finally gave the hosts the lead, placing his penalty corner perfectly into the bottom left corner. Belgium’s influence on the game grew as New Zealand were reduced to 10 players with Boyde receiving a yellow card for a reckless tackle, but they could not score a second as the hosts took a 1-goal lead into the half.
New Zealand nearly got back level early in the third quarter from a penalty corner but were denied by an excellent save by Loic van Doren. Belgium capitalised on the lost opportunity by New Zealand and doubled their lead in the 34th minute with Luypaert scoring from Belgium’s second penalty corner of the game. New Zealand managed to pull one back from a penalty corner of their own through a Kane Russell drag flick, but Belgium restored their 2-goal cushion soon after with Dockier getting on the end of a ball into the circle by Boccard.
Arno van Dessel was awarded the player of the match and said: “We were not really happy with the defence yesterday, felt like we conceded too many goals. So it was a focus area today so I am happy with that aspect of the game. We weren’t very clinical with our chances in the first half but we were good with our PCs, so overall we’ll take these 3 points today.”
To see the current standings in the FIH Hockey Pro League, click here.
FIH Pro League – 18 June 2023
Lee Valley Tennis and Hockey Centre, London (GBR)
Result: Women’s Match 53
Great Britain 4-2 USA
Player of the Game: Charlotte Watson (GBR)
Umpires: Alison Keogh (IRL), German Montes de Oca (ARG), Tyler Klenk (CAN-video)
Result: Men’s Match 53
Great Britain 3-0 Spain
Player of the Game: Zach Wallace (GBR)
Umpires: Tyler Klenk (CAN), Céline Martin-Schmets (BEL), German Montes de Oca (ARG-video)
Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein – Antwerp (BEL)
Result: Women’s Match 54
Belgium 7-0 New Zealand
Player of the Game: Charlotte Englebert (BEL)
Umpires: Coen van Bunge (NED), Annelize Rostron (RSA), Xiaoying Liu (CHN-video)
Result: Men’s Match 54
Belgium 3-1 New Zealand
Player of the Game: Arno van Dessel (BEL)
Umpires: Martin Madden (SCO), Michelle Meister (GER), Xiaoying Liu (CHN-video)