Netherlands cruise in to Tokyo semi-finals

The Dutch national team won the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games against New Zealand 3-0 on Monday in Tokyo. The Orange played a good game and the semi-final place was never in danger. The opponent is the winner of Spain-Great Britain, the quarterfinals to be played later in the day.

As number one in the group, a place in the semi-finals was no guarantee, as it turned out in Tokyo on Monday when the still unbeaten Australia went down against the India of Sjoerd Marijne (1-0). Suddenly the winner of group B was eliminated. It must have been a wake-up call for the Dutch national team, which undoubtedly wanted to save themselves that fate. The Orange convincingly defeated opponent New Zealand, which quickly faced a 1-0 deficit. After the 3-0 in the third quarter, all tension disappeared from the game and the Netherlands could already start saving strength.

Lidewij Welten of the Netherlands celebrates the 1-0 during the quarterfinals against New Zealand at the Olympic hockey tournament. Photo: Koen Suyko

Wonderful passing movement by Leurink

There had been seven minutes of hockey, when an eye-catching action by Laurien Leurink formed the basis of the opening goal of the Netherlands. Just before the back line she passed opponent Frances Davies with a smooth movement. She then served attacker Lidewij Welten, who handsomely appeared in front of her husband, put her stick on the ground and tipped the 1-0 in.

It was a wonderful goal, after Josine Koning had stopped a penalty corner from Megan Hull with her foot and the Netherlands had not converted two penalty corners themselves. The Orange penalty corner was still stiff, as has been the case throughout the tournament. But it was clear that the Netherlands had the upper hand in the first quarter.

Things got tense for a while when New Zealand scored three penalty corners in a row at the start of the third quarter. Twice, the Kiwis opted for a shear on the flatsing Hull. Once Olivia dragged Merry straight into goal, followed by a glorious save from Josine Koning.

Record for Matla

After that, the Netherlands took control again. Four penalty corners were again missed. Caia van Maasakker did push a ball on the helmet of line stop Hull, which was seen by the video referee and resulted in a penalty shot. It was Frédérique Matla who went behind the ball and pushed half high on the stick side of keeper Grace O’Hanlon (2-0). It was the twelfth international match in a row in which she scored. With that she equaled the Orange record of Lisanne Lejeune .

Players of the Netherlands celebrate the 2-0 from a penalty shot by Frédérique Matla. Photo: Koen Suyko

Penalty corner goal by Lauren Stam

The Orange Ladies were happy with that, because they rarely concede two goals. Halfway through the third quarter, the lead even grew to 3-0, when the seventh penalty corner was finally cashed in. It was not Van Maasakker and also not Matla, but Lauren Stam who pushed the ball through line stop Olivia Merry. Shortly afterwards, Matla had the 4-0 on her stick, but she hit the ball wrong, causing it to go wide.

What followed was a match that was never exciting anymore. The belief in a victory decreased by the minute among the players of New Zealand in the last quarter. The main thing for the Netherlands was to finish the match unscathed. There was no more scoring. After sixty minutes of hockey and the sounding of the buzzer, the internationals of the Dutch team coolly celebrated reaching the last four, because the holy mission extends beyond making it to the semi-finals.

Netherlands-New Zealand 3-0 ( 2-0)
7. Lidewij Welten 1-0
21. Frédérique Mata 2-0 (sb)
37. Lauren Stam 3-0 (sc)

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