With 233 days left until the start of the Olympic hockey tournament, the Orange Women started the Road to Paris in Santiago del Estero with an impressive 8-0 victory over Great Britain. In the first game of the fifth FIH Pro League season for coach Paul van Ass’ team, Yibbi Jansen played a leading role with three goals and Fay van der Elst scored on her debut.
At a temperature of over thirty degrees, the Orange Ladies eagerly drank from their water bottles afterwards. A high five was given here and there, but it was clear that the Orange Ladies had been pushing hard for sixty minutes. And after the winter temperatures in the Netherlands, the tropical Argentinian conditions clearly took some getting used to.
This of course also applied to the British ladies, who had to run after the ball for sixty minutes because the Orange Ladies had let it pass smoothly from stick to stick. That’s how national coach Van Ass likes to see it. The hockey enthusiast sets the bar higher than gold for his team in Paris. That medal must be framed with sparkling and attacking hockey.
In that respect, the European Championship, which was played in Germany last summer, was not a good general. Although the Dutch won gold and thus qualified for Paris, the game did not appeal much to fan Van Ass. And so at the start of the Road to Paris, the national coach happily continues to work on his ideal formation by giving new talents and veterans a chance.
To many people’s surprise, Van Ass brought Eva Drummond back to the selection. And Lidewij Welten also traveled to Argentina. Both hockey icons could win their fourth Olympic gold medal in Paris. A unique one. But that’s a long way off. The competition in the Dutch selection is fierce.
Against Great Britain, both gold diggers had to settle for a place in the stands. They saw Fay van der Elst make her debut on the blue artificial grass. The Amsterdam attacker did this creditably. She was already close to a goal in the second quarter, was involved in the fourth Dutch goal and scored the 7-0 on her debut in the third quarter.
Van der Elst was the only newcomer in a team that mainly consisted of players who were also on the scoresheet at the European Championships in Germany. Compared to the semi-final at the European Championship against England, Marijn Veen, Laura Nunnink and Margot van Geffen were missing. Their places were taken by Van der Elst, Marleen Jochems and Rosa Fernig.
In contrast to the European Championship match against England, where we had to wait until the second half for (seven) goals, the Dutch team now overcame their opponent 3-0 in the first quarter. The absolute leading role was claimed by who else than Yibbi Jansen. SCHC’s penalty corner specialist is becoming more of a phenomenon with every international match. She hit two goals within fifteen minutes. One on the left, the other on the right. She doesn’t care. Just before half time she was close to her third, which went straight. This time the British goalie made an attentive save. Her high rebound was cleverly controlled by Freeke Moes and hit perfectly into the long corner with the backhand: 3-0.
This of course completely stripped the game of any tension and the Dutch team could attack to their heart’s content against that (quality) poor British formation. The islanders were unlucky that the Dutch felt like it in the Argentinian heat. Even if the British had received a point for every shot towards goal, they probably would not have won against the reigning Olympic, world, European and Pro League champions. The Dutch also scored the 4-0 in the second quarter via Pien Sanders, from a rebound from a penalty corner.
In the third quarter, Van Ass’ team continued to increase to 8-0, thanks to goals from Freeke Moes (tip-in), Jansen (penalty ball) and Van der Elst (forehand tip-in on a pass from Jansen) and Luna Fokke (backhand) . In the fourth quarter, the Dutch team believed it and lacked the real will to score more goals, leaving the score 8-0.
An unprecedented monster score – the largest ever for the Dutch team against Great Britain – that will inspire a lot of awe among the competitors. Argentina, number three in the world, drew 0-0 against the same GB this week. The opponents still have 232 days to come up with a ruse to disrupt this orange steamroller.