In the run-up to the Olympic semi-final against Great Britain, the players of Orange did not want to talk about feelings of revenge. But after the resounding 5-1 victory, it was clear that the older generation in Alyson Annan’s selection, in particular, wanted to make something clear to GB.
“I think everyone had their own personal reason why we wanted to beat them so badly,” captain Eva de Goede confessed. Five years ago, she was already part of the Orange team that dominated the hockey final in Rio, but ultimately lost via shoot-outs.
This also applies to Margot van Geffen, who was irritated by statements from Maddie Hinch, among others, in the run-up to the semi-final in Tokyo . “They may say it hurts us, but that just gave me energy. I can remember a lot of quarter-finals, semi-finals and other tournaments where we humiliated them. Take, for example, the European Championship in 2019, in which we won 8-0 (against England, ed.). That hurts too, don’t you think? You also see today: it was pure luck what they put down in Rio. It’s great that we’re sending them home like this today.”
Fellow generation De Goede denounces the attitude of the British players. “We have the feeling that those girls always have a lot of bravado, almost arrogant. We really wanted to show today that they certainly don’t come near us. I’m glad we were able to play our own game and knock them all out.’
The way Orange played was impressive. Only in the first quarter could the dethroned Olympic champion offer good resistance, but after two goals within a minute in the second quarter (from Felice Albers and Marloes Keetels) the game was actually already over. “We can keep up that game and high tempo throughout the game. They don’t’, concludes Van Geffen.
She led the fight in the first quarter. ‘I wanted to show that we are going to take the blows here. That signal was clear, I think’, she says with a smile. In the eyes of the arbitration, Van Geffen proceeded a little too fanatically, as a result of which she ran into a green card.
An unjust decision, according to Van Geffen: ‘I didn’t think it was a green card. They are very physical and we get a green card for every physical tackle. We had three green cards today. I thought they were all unfair, but there are too many. We have to be smarter about that in the final.’
Even with one player less, the Orange was the better team. Via 2-0, the Netherlands ran out to 4-0 and eventually won 5-1. Van Geffen experienced the last minute of the game from the bench. With a minute to play, she walked in the dugout to head coach Alyson Annan and gave her a big hug. ‘I thought: now that it can’t go wrong, we can enjoy it for a while. It was a special moment.’
After the convincingly won semi-final, nothing seems to be able to stop the Orange train on its way to gold. De Goede: ‘The young girls are the stars of heaven. The leaders take up their role and ensure that the youngsters can play without pressure. The vibe is so good. We are fighters on the field, it’s fun off the field and we manage to enjoy it too. Then we are at our very best.’
First Olympic goal
While Van Geffen scored her first ever goal at an Olympic Games earlier in the tournament (against India), De Goede is still waiting for that scoop at her fourth Games. Against Britain she was very close. In the first quarter, after a corner from Frédérique Matla, she got the ball delicately placed in the stick by Malou Pheninckx. De Goede wanted to flatten the ball into the corner, but ran into a British foot. A penalty shot awarded was later converted to a penalty corner by the video ref.
‘I was close there. Hopefully I’ll be a bit sharper in the final and I’ll just have to score my goal’, says De Goede, who will then play her 249th international match. To immediately add: ‘That would be nice, but in the end it’s all about scoring those goals. I don’t care who. You can see again today that we have a lot of scoring ability. The fact that those goals come quickly makes it a lot easier afterwards.’
De Goede will go on Friday for her fourth Olympic final in a row, Van Geffen for her third; in Rio she got silver, in London gold. As the team’s DJ, she already knows for sure which song will be played on the bus to the Oi Hockey Stadium: ‘I have a fixed list. Don’t stop me now from Queen, it definitely says. Indeed: we are having such a good time.’