A formidable Netherlands Women’s team have started where they left off, before Great Britain’s Men registered a stunning win on Match Day 2 of the FIH Pro League ‘mini-tournament’ in Santiago del Estero.
The Netherlands Women showed their appetite is as strong as ever as they inflicted Great Britain’s heaviest FIH Pro League loss in an 8-0 demolition.
Yibbi Jansen was the star, scoring a hat-trick and playing a part in several other goals as the defending champions sent an ominous warning in their first hit out of the new season.
The Men’s match was a much tighter contest as two goals from Struan Walker in his senior international debut gave Great Britain a gripping 3-2 win over defending champions the Netherlands.
(Women’s) Great Britain v Netherlands 0-8
Backing up 24 hours after drawing with hosts Argentina was always going to be an enormous task for Great Britain against the defending FIH Pro League champions.
And so it proved as the world’s best women’s hockey team had three goals on the board in the opening quarter. Jansen, the top scorer at the EuroHockey Championship back in August, struck twice through venomous drag flicks in the 4th and 14th minutes – the first to the left of Great Britain goalkeeper Miriam Pritchard before firing the second to her right.
Freeke Moes added the third a minute later when she ruthlessly struck a tomahawk into the corner, mopping up a rebound from another Jansen drag flick.
Pritchard was temporarily replaced by Sabbie Heesh after a collision with a teammate trying to scramble the ball away.
Some clever stick work from Hannah French won Great Britain their first of six penalty corners of the game but they could not capitalise from the resultant set piece.
In contrast, the Netherlands were making the most of their penalty corner opportunities and Pien Sanders made it 4-0 when she was positioned perfectly to tuck her shot over the goal line after the ball had bobbled around in the circle.
Great Britain had a couple of penalty corners to end the first half but they could not cut into the four goal deficit.
Hungry for more, the Netherlands were in again within a minute of the resumption as Moes scored her second after another superbly worked team build up.
Jansen’s hat-trick came in the 36th minute courtesy of a penalty stroke after her drag flick hit the body of Giselle Ansley on the goal line.
The Dutch press was causing Great Britain all kinds of headaches and a minute later Jansen turned provider as she put the ball on a plate for Fay van der Elst to score on her senior international debut to make it 7-0.
A relentless Netherlands then had their highest score in the FIH Pro League since they defeated the USA 10-0 back in April 2022 when they produced a swift transition from one end of the pitch to the other in the 44th minute.
Pritchard’s attempted clearance with her boot from near the top of the circle only managed to get as far as Luna Fokke and despite still having work to do, the Dutch woman finished with a aplomb from an acute angle.
The last quarter was a mere formality as Great Britain looked to save some face and respectability. They put together their best move of the match as they took it coast to coast, Elena Reyer and Tessa Howard combining with the latter watching her eventual shot sail inches to the wrong side of the far post.
“We played really well as a team today and made some nice goals so we’re really happy with the win,” said Yansen after being named Player of the Match.
“We want to improve with every match…that’s our motivation. We scored eight goals today, we wanted to make nine, so we always want to improve.”
(Men’s) Great Britain v Netherlands 3-2
In their first FIH Pro League match since lifting the trophy back in July, the Netherlands stormed out of the blocks winning a penalty corner inside three minutes. From the battery, Jip Janssen’s drag flick took a deflection and cannoned into the crossbar.
The penalty corner was the first of five for the Netherlands in the opening quarter, however it was Great Britain who would break the deadlock in the 15th minute.
Determination and speed from Tim Nurse allowed him to hammer a searching ball into the circle from the right. After taking a slight ricochet, the ball came out to debutant Struan Walker and he struck a superb shot on the upright reverse from an acute angle.
The Netherlands drew level within two minutes when Joep de Mol waltzed the ball out of his defensive half before finding Jorrit Croon. The Netherlands number 10 then produced some scintillating individual skill and control, creating space for himself to smash a shot past Great Britain Oliver Payne into the backboard.
In an entertaining end to end affair, Great Britain regained the lead when Nicholas Bandurak showed control and poise to connect a forestick on the volley past Netherlands goalkeeper Maurits Visser to make it 2-1 at half time.
An unstoppable drag flick from Janssen restored parity in the 32nd minute, while at the other end Visser was on high alert to deny a stinging Lee Morton effort as Great Britain asked questions of the Dutch defence.
Floris Wortelboer almost undid the Great Britain defence with a sublime run along the byline early in the last quarter as the Netherlands appeared the more likely to score again.
However, it would be Walker who would round off a memorable debut as he displayed the maturity and positioning of a seasoned veteran to get the better of his marker and put Great Britain back in front in the 55th minute after a quality pass from Thomas Sorsby.
There was enough time for the Netherlands to try and respond for a third time in the game, however it was not to be as they had a late referral overruled to leave Great Britain securing all three points.
“I’m absolutely buzzing. It’s a dream debut to get the win over the Netherlands,” said Walker who was named Player of the Match.
“This result shows the character of the players in our squad. We’ve got fighters who work really hard from the first minute to the very end, so it’s testament to the players we have, the coaching staff and everyone involved in the team.”
Day 3 of action sees hosts Argentina take on the Netherlands starting with the women’s match at 7:00pm local time.
To see the current standings in the FIH Hockey Pro League, click here.
FIH Pro League – 7 December 2023
Santiago del Estero (ARG)
Result: Women’s Match 2
Great Britain 0-8 Netherlands
Player of the Game: Yibbi Jansen (NED)
Umpires: Irene Presenqui (ARG), Jonathan Altamirano (MEX), German Montes de Oca (ARG-video)
Result: Men’s Match 2
Great Britain 3-2 Netherlands
Player of the Game: Struan Walker (GBR)
Umpires: Federico Silva (ARG), Ayanna McClean (TTO), Gabriel Labate (ARG-video)