Despite a lot of goodwill and some great possibilities, the Belgian players did not manage to surprise the Netherlands who will play their 4th consecutive European final.
After having brilliantly secured their place in the last four, the Panthers could approach this derby of the flat countries without any pressure. Indeed, the meeting was unbalanced on paper between the world number 1’s, who have dominated women’s hockey unchallenged for more than 10 years, and an ambitious Belgian team, but in full reconstruction, and too happy to finally obtain results after so much years of famine. But this observation did not mean, however, that the Belgians were going to approach this meeting without a certain appetite, on the contrary. Raoul Ehren wanted these players to play the blow to the full, first, to have fun and then to already prepare as well as possible for the duel for 3rd place, this Sunday, if the semi-final did not turn out to their advantage.
In the first half, it was the Dutch who took the initiative. They didn’t really dominate the game but left very little real opportunity for the Red Panthers. They also returned to the locker room with an advantage of 2 goals (Frederique Matla and Felice Albers). But after the break, the face of the meeting was somewhat different. The Belgian players were more offensive and they still raised their level of play a little. They tried to shake up their opponents by offering a fluid game and by putting much more intensity in the duels. As the minutes went by, they even settled into the Dutch camp and they were rewarded for their efforts when, in the 37th minute, Stephanie Vanden Borre closed the gap on stroke.
A goal that gave them even more enthusiasm and boosted the morale of the troops. In the last quarter, the Netherlands tried to take cover but Elodie Picard made several good saves. The Panthers were playing without complexes and they were trying to score a second goal. However, it was the reigning European champions who struck again on a powerful penalty from Caia van Maasakker (3-1). The end of the meeting was nothing even if the Belgians never gave up.
“Our opponents have evolved a little above us but not the whole meeting,” said young striker France De Mot. “We have shown that we can compete with them and why not even beat them during the next few months. We offered great hockey and above all we showed the whole world that we had our place in this last square. It was played out with details on which we will still have to work so that it becomes automatic. The slightest mistake pays for itself. We will learn lessons for the future. Sunday, we want to go for the bronze medal. And the plan will be the same as usual. We will have to play our game. “
The Red Panthers will face Germany for the Bronze Medal (6.30 p.m.).