Frustrated, Brian Vervoort – coach of Rotterdam – addresses his troops on Friday evening after a hard, but unnecessary defeat against competitor Oranje-Rood (4-2). In the circle he shouts: ‘This is not possible at all, what happened here. We really brought this on ourselves.’
Sports are at their best when they are unfair. Rotterdam, which as number twelve in the competition needs the points so badly, will lose a match on Friday that it cannot lose at all. For several minutes, the bottom of the Tulp Hoofdklasse put the competitor from Eindhoven with his back against the wall. Rotterdam gets chance after chance, and also scores seven penalty corners, but after sixty minutes of hockey it is really the Oranje-Rood that has achieved a victory.
Brechtje van Santbrink, Rotterdam’s talent from its own youth academy, is comforted in the dug-out by assistant coach Jordy van der Waart. Tears roll down her cheeks. Five minutes before the end she should have kicked off a Rotterdam comeback, when she had the 4-3 on her stick. But she flattened wide in front of an open goal.
Amber van den Dijssel drowns in the arms of goalkeeper Iris Nikerk. Throughout the match, Rotterdam’s fast attacker gave the Oranje-Rood defenders a masterclass in sprinting. But with three minutes left on the clock, Van den Dijssel committed a foul, for which she was sent off. And Rotterdam had to continue the hunt for two goals with one man less. It felt like raising the white flag.
We conceded two shitty goals today. We’ve been conceding crappy goals all season. Rotterdam coach Brian Vervoort
About five minutes after the match, Vervoort’s eyes are still spitting fire. He points to the scoreboard. It really says it: 4-2. For Orange-Red. ‘This result should have been the other way around. We should have won. The Oranje-Rood was completely nowhere for more than three quarters of the match. That’s why those girls are so sad. Because we should have left the field as winners. And no one else.’
Vervoort comes from Rotterdam. He mentions things that he thinks did not go well against Oranje-Rood, as Rotterdammers do. In no uncertain terms. Even though those words start with a k. ‘I’m standing here feeling like shit. Let me just say it honestly. We conceded two shitty goals today. We’ve been conceding crappy goals all season. Worthless.’
Rotterdam should have ended the match a long time ago
Vervoort saw his players do fantastic things on Friday evening, but he also saw them make big mistakes. It had not even been two minutes of hockey before Rotterdam immediately conceded a goal. On the stroke of half time, after a dominant phase by Rotterdam – with goals from Emma van Santbrink and Rebecca Huijgens – the 2-2 came out of nowhere. While it should have been 1-3 or 1-4 in Rotterdam’s favor for a long time.
Vervoort says that during half-time he emphasized how well his team was playing hockey. He has urged his players to get off to a good start now. But once back on the field, another goal was conceded within two minutes. A little later the 4-2 was also given away from the switch. Way too easy.
‘We did this to ourselves. We have to realize that we concede goals far too easily. That has to come out. That really has to come out. Only: it doesn’t work out. Not all season. The number of goals we concede in the first five minutes of the first or second half is extremely high. It’s not unwillingness on the part of those girls or anything like that. They train hard for it, they do their best. But it has to come out.’
We shouldn’t point our fingers at each other now. Rotterdam coach Brian Vervoort
Vervoort knows what can happen within a team that is already struggling, as soon as you lose games that you need to win. Players can point at each other. But he won’t let that happen, he says. Another important match is scheduled for Sunday against HGC, which has replaced Oranje-Rood as number eleven in the rankings. Then his players have to be there as a team again.
‘We shouldn’t point our fingers at each other now. Don’t talk about who missed an opportunity. About who got off to a slow start or who didn’t stay with her husband. No, we have to stick together now. That’s what we have to do now. It’s definitely not going to happen to us on Sunday that we are the better team again, but still lose. Nevernever.’