The Netherlands won 4-0 against Ireland in Tokyo on Monday , but that could easily have been 8-0, if Ayeisha McFerran had not been keeping a world match. For her, it must have been a kind of crowning achievement after a difficult season at Kampong, where she did not always feel the confidence of coach Pieter Bos. It was a shame for McFerran that she made a mistake in the match against the Netherlands at 4-0.
With her stick, McFerran cleverly took a penalty corner from the Orange. With her glove, she stopped shots from, among others, Frédérique Matla and Margot van Geffen. With her boot she stopped cannonballs from Maria Verschoor and Lidewij Welten. These are just a few of McFerran’s many saves, who kept her team going for a long time. Until eleven minutes before the end, Ireland’s deficit was only 1-0, marginal given the display of power of the Netherlands.
It was the hardest time of my career McFerran said about the past season, when she was sometimes overlooked at Kampong
When she receives the compliment about her game after the match, there are perfunctory quotes like: ‘It’s my job to stop balls’. It touches her much more when a conversation unfolds about last season at Kampong, in which coach Pieter Bos passed her in some games for Ivana Stavasius. At the 2018 world championship, McFerran was still named best goalkeeper of the tournament, now she was suddenly no longer undisputed at Kampong.
“Last season was the hardest time of my career. Before that I had never experienced a phase where things went a bit less’, says the normally cheerful McFerran, but now she makes a serious face.
“It has made it clear to me that I should never take anything for granted. That I always have to keep fighting. One of the things that make the Netherlands such a beautiful hockey country is that there is so much talent around. The coach thought I was not the right goalkeeper for some matches. I had to respect that, but I didn’t agree. It also affected my self-confidence. But it also taught me a lot. It made me more aware of what I’m doing. Plus, it made me mentally stronger. I’m a better goalkeeper now.’
At the end of the match McFerran sold herself short
Against the Netherlands, it was not apparent in the first three quarters that McFerran’s self-confidence had taken a knock earlier this season. What is unfortunate for her is that she did not reward herself with a clear game, but should have prevented the 4-0. She misjudged a penalty corner from Frédérique Matla, who pushed across the middle. Also at the 3-0 she could have intervened a little more convincingly. While diving she swung her stick over the ball, after which Leurink hit the spot.
‘I am particularly disappointed with the 4-0. That was really my fault. I lowered the team there. I don’t know what happened, it was an error in my head,” says McFerran. “Overall, I’m very happy with how I’ve managed this game, let’s be clear. But with that last goal I sold myself short. I really should have taken that one.’