By winning the Gold Cup, Marloes Keetels added a new prize to her already overflowing list of honours. More than the joy about winning the most important cup tournament, the captain of Den Bosch was delighted with the displayed fighting spirit. “We competed again as a team, as black and yellow. I think that’s tonight’s win.’
‘We wanted to show that fighting spirit that we as Den Bosch are known for. It wasn’t all pretty, but we kept fighting. Where we used to be able to sink in, we now kept in touch with each other and stimulate each other positively. That’s what finals are about, not about whether you close the backhand or forehand’, explains Keetels.
“We have an incredibly good group with so many good players, but you still need that to win finals. Maybe we had to realize that again, because you have to make an effort to show it. That’s the most important thing in finals. The rest really only comes in second or third place.’
The hockey world was looking forward to the clash in the Gold Cup between the two best teams of the Dutch big league. The unbeaten runner-up SCHC this season against leader Den Bosch. In March, the teams met at Oosterplas. Then SCHC won thanks to a goal from Yibbi Jansen. A match that Keetels had looked back on in the run-up to the final match.
That fighting spirit came especially after the break. SCHC was already sentenced to a catch-up race after the first quarter and tried to crack the defense with combination play and later with opportunistic balls, but Den Bosch did not flinch.
Strike in first quarter
The team of coach Marieke Dijkstra had made its mark in the first 17.5 minutes. Den Bosch scored twice through Frédérique Matla. First the attacker converted a penalty corner and then she was accurate from the penalty spot.
Xan de Waard’s connecting goal quickly in the second quarter came more or less out of the blue. Offensively, SCHC could not make a fist. The team from Bilthoven did not come more than a ball on the post and a penalty corner by Yibbi Jansen in the last minute, which was well caught by goalkeeper Josine Koning.
‘Yes, that ball on the post was my tip’, Keetels laughs. “It’s all happening so fast. If it had gone in, you’ll have to see if the ref saw that I touched it. At that last corner we said to each other: this one is no way in. I really like that team feeling.’
Cup final as a test case
After the previous league defeat against SCHC and the recent loss in the EHL final against Amsterdam, the cup final felt like a test, says Keetels. ‘A test to show the fighting spirit, which we want to show every game. You are a week before the play-offs. Now you want to peak every game.’
The basis for those peak moments lies in the training sessions, says Keetels. “We train the way we want to be on the pitch. That means that we defend each other fiercely during training. If you don’t do that in training, you’re not used to it in competitions. They also say: you play the way you train.’
Winning the Gold Cup boosts the confidence of the Bossche team with a view to the play-offs, Keetels acknowledges. “It’s nice that you win it. We are really going to celebrate him and we can build towards the play-offs.’
Did Den Bosch give SCHC a small blow with the victory? ‘Perhaps, but you should ask Stichtsche about that. For us this was a first step, a beautiful one, but a first step. The playoffs are always exciting and a fun time. We see it as a series of matches in which we have to be there.’