The men of Rotterdam experienced a dramatic Sunday. They eventually lost 6-3 to the Oranje-Rood, but that score did not reflect the impact of the brutal defeat. ‘We are not ready for a top match yet. And there are no excuses for that.’
Their opponents from the Oranje-Rood had already been standing along the fence chatting with family. Provided young hockey fans with an autograph or a selfie. Or simply stood together to enjoy the more than deserved victory, which could have been much bigger. OR was already 6-1 ahead after the third quarter and then loosened the reins, after which Jeroen Hertzberger – who else – pushed in two more corners for Rotterdam.
Rotterdam’s selection was less than fifty meters away on the same field. But the world looked very different there on Sunday afternoon around a quarter past four. After the surprising big defeat, they put their heads together again, even though they had done so many times that day. They stood in their circle for a long time, and they all left with a gloomy expression. This also applied to international Thijs van Dam.
“I think we as a collective have fallen through the ice today,” said the striker, while his teammates trudged to the changing rooms in disappointment. ‘It was below par both offensively and defensively. Yes, ouch. That hurts. We’ve let it get too far. Everything fell into place for them. That gave them confidence. And for us that actually decreased. They made optimal use of that. Then things can go fast’, he says with a contorted face. ‘We scored two more goals, but the Oranje-Red was already a bit ready by then.’
Which was all substandard
The term off-day is coined. A concept that Van Dam considers for a moment. ‘I think that’s what it ultimately comes down to. We didn’t show what we can do today. And I just think…” He pauses. Searches for the right words. ‘It wasn’t good enough. Tactically it was fine. It was entirely down to the execution. That’s where we left it.’
And it went fast too. Very hard. This also had to do with the effectiveness of the Oranje-Rood, which immediately converted its first four big chances into goals and thus achieved an astonishing 4-1 halftime score. “But it wasn’t just that they were effective,” it sounds rather fierce. Van Dam does not spare himself or his team. ‘OR has done well. But it’s too simple to say that was the reason. We have to look at ourselves. I thought we were very mediocre. So in the implementation. But also in terms of self-confidence, conviction and keeping agreements. We stayed very far away from the way we want to play.”
That’s quite a list. ‘Beats. But you don’t just lose 6-3 either. It also feels like a bigger defeat. Look, we’re just a good team. Then it’s simply not possible for you to be behind 6-1.’
The lower limit and Kuijpers’ solo
Rotterdam also had a tough afternoon in Eindhoven last season, when they lost 3-1 in the City of Light. ‘Different figures, but that also felt quite hopeless’, Van Dam remembers. Ultimately, things started to go well for Rotterdam, which reached the play-offs partly thanks to an enormous scoring drive. This seemed to be a step up, towards more stability. “I also expected that our lower limit would be higher,” says Van Dam. ‘This cannot happen to us again. We are beyond this. We have a team with so much experience and good players. Then you have to prevent this from happening.’
The most striking thing was the quick setback that Rotterdam suffered after the break. The break that seemed ideal to pick up some shards. But the opposite happened. During the Oranje-Rood’s first attack in the second half, OR midfielder Max Kuijpers fooled half Rotterdam’s team and then Sam Lane scored the 5-1. ‘Well, Kuijpers. Not the fastest on the field. But solo, you’ll pass everyone by,” Van Dam continues to be disappointed. ‘It was a nice action from Max, compliments for that. And for Oranje-Rood how they punished us. But it is unbelievable that the goal came at that moment.’
It was already the third top match in a row that Rotterdam lost. After the impressive 4-2 victory over the renewed Bloemendaal on the second match day, the 2013 champion also lost against Kampong and Pinoké, both times 2-1. “That says something,” Van Dam realizes. ‘We also lost everything to Oranje-Rood, Kampong and Bloemendaal last season. Then we were in the play-offs, but we almost didn’t win a top match. So we are not ready for that yet. And again: there are no excuses for that. I think we should be ready for it.”