3 October 2021
ABN-AMRO Women’s EHL Ranking Cup Final
UHC Hamburg 2 Surbiton 0
Surbiton finished sixth overall in the EHL Ranking Cup after travelling to Hamburg and only being able to play one game due to Irish club Pegasus withdrawing.
With the Euro Hockey League Final4 having been held in Amsterdam in April for the top four seeded clubs, the EHL Ranking Cup was designed to rank places five to eight in a tournament which would normally have included all eight teams at the same location.
But due to Covid-19 issues, the competition had to be split into two halves with semi-finals and a final. UHC had an advantage, not only playing at home, but being able to physically play HC Minsk the day before, winning 2-1 to confirm their place in the final.
Minsk were automatically ranked seventh because as with Surbiton, both teams were awarded 5-0 wins with Pegasus forfeiting both matches. The final was to decide ranks five and six, to allow the EHF to calculate the ranking tables to decide how many places each country gets in each European competition in the next edition.
In spite of having little match practice at the venue, Surbiton dominated possession at the start of the match but were unable to take advantage, whereas UHC were dangerous in the third minute, working on a double aerial move out of defence, only thwarted when Lisa Musci and Yara Mandel couldn’t combine to finish off the move.
Considering that both UHC goals came from penalty corners, it was ironic that Surbiton struggled with their four awards, although Darcy Bourne gave home goalkeeper, Noelle Rother work to do from the visitors’ first.
It was a familiar face who ended Surbiton’s hopes of European glory, Amy Costello, formerly of East Grinstead and the University of Birmingham, opening the scoring in the eleventh minute from UHC’s first penalty corner.
In the second quarter, Nicola Pluta replaced Costello as UHC’s penalty corner threat and Georgie Twigg was forced to give the ball away under pressure from UHC’s defence whilst trying to find a gap during a Surbiton set-piece.
It was UHC’s turn to dominate the start of the third quarter before Surbiton settled down and threatened through Twigg and Emily Defroand on the right wing before UHC Captain, Emily Günther intervened. Sarah Evans and Alice Sharp both had shots toward goal, Sharp hoping for an attacking deflection from outside the circle.
Thora Schneider made a penetrating run through the centre of the Surbiton defence before making a poor pass to Rieke Noell, an example of the problem both teams had, trying to play attacking hockey but making unforced errors at the vital moment.
Costello struck again in the 41st minute and in the fourth quarter, Surbiton were more urgent in their attacking play, but the closest they came to scoring was when Bourne’s cross from the right was deflected by Maddie Long, Rother making a reflex save to frustrate Surbiton.
So Surbiton had to settle for runners-up spot and sixth place overall. As with the men’s competition, the EHF will use the final positions to calculate the ranking tables and decide how many places in each competition each country will receive in the next edition.
Scorer: Amy Costello 11-PC, 41-PC
Starters: Noelle Rother (GK); Amelie Wortmann, Lilli Kreusler, Johanna Seelmaecker, Amy Costello, Emily Günther (Capt.), Ida Köllinger, Yara Mandel, Lisa Musci, Sofie Stomps, Nicola Pluta.
Subs: Ricarda Busch (5 mins), Rieke Noell (5), Marlene Wieworra (5), Anna Steps (5), Thora Schneider (5).
Not used: Denize Genca (GK), Teresa Martin Pelegrina.
Starters: Sabbie Heesh (GK); Darcy Bourne, Alice Wills, Sarah Evans (Capt.), Georgie Twigg, Holly Payne, Eloise Stenner, Steph Elliott, Leah Wilkinson, Alice Sharp, Robyn Collins.
Subs: Lottie Ross (5 mins), Maddie Long (6), Freya Bull (7), Emily Defroand (8), Meg Dowthwaite (12).
Umpires: Lisette Baljon (Netherlands) and Magali Sergeant (Belgium)
Report: Colin Pike