The Dutch hockey women have kept Argentina away from the overall victory in the FIH Pro League with a 1-1 draw. Just like on Saturday, the Orange Women had to go all out against the number two in the world in the first game (which also ended 1-1). The Orange squad won the shoot-outs in an attractive Union sports park in Nijmegen after sudden death .
The Argentinian players were disappointed afterwards. With a victory by Argentina over the Netherlands, the South American formation had won the overall victory in Pro League on Sunday. They had gone for it in this double with Orange, but the team of Jamilon Mülders ruined that party. That hurt. Argentina’s Pro League win would be the first since Great Britain’s gold medal at the Rio Games in 2016, that a country other than the Netherlands won a major prize.
The Orange squad lost the final in Rio after shoot-outs, but since then, as a glutton in international women’s hockey, has not left any serious crumbs for the competition. Just count: three European titles (2017, 2019, 2021), the Champions Trophy (2018), the Hockey World League (2017), the world title (2018), two times the Pro League (2020, 2021) and Olympic gold (2021).
Argentina is still the top favorite for the overall victory in the Pro League, although coach Fernando Ferrara’s team still has two difficult away games against India ahead of them. In the Dutch camp, no one will think that the Pro League cup does not end up in the cupboard at the KNHB.
With Orange everything revolves around the World Cup that will erupt in the Netherlands and Spain in just over a month. Then the orange hockey machine has to run at full speed again, the old-fashioned way. The preparation for that tournament was started months ago, but since the play-offs have come to an end last week, they are working towards the climax.
Argentina is very likely going to be the biggest challenger to the Orange squad at the World Cup and so these two Pro League duels between the two hockey superpowers were a nice first indicator for the ladies. Hard conclusions can not be drawn, the play-off vicissitudes were still too fresh in the Dutch legs for that. Nevertheless, this South American team made it clear in two matches in Nijmegen that the team may be better at the World Cup than the team that reached the final at the Tokyo Games last year.
Argentina played fresh, aggressive and creative hockey. Just like on Saturday, the guests started the game in front of 3000 spectators fanatically. Within two minutes, Agustina Albertarrio isolated into the circle on the left, gave a cross that tipped Victoria Granatto. Josine Koning was able to save only with great effort, but Argentina made it clear that they were serious.
The Orange had to pull out all the stops in that phase and could only hand out the first pinprick minutes later. Midfielder Laura Nunnink, who was the captain in this match, put the ball back to Yibbi Jansen, who didn’t hit it well, causing him to roll next to the goal.
Argentina called the shots. Also got the first corner, but after the first quarter it was still 0-0 on the boards.
In the second quarter, where Maria Granatto – striker of Bloemendaal next season – had caused danger, the Netherlands gained the upper hand. Leurink took a corner, which was just missed by Frédérique Matla. Xan de Waard hit a good backhand, which was saved by 36-year-old Belen Succi.
Four minutes before half time, the Orange squad received the second penalty corner. Orange played a variant via Sanne Koolen and Felice Albers, which came on the foot of an Argentine defender Valentina Costa. Penalty-ball ruled by the arbiter, but the video referee revoked that decision to the astonishment of Orange. That got another corner. That resulted in a new corner after the Albers variant. This time, the ball went to Yibbi Jansen, who pushed unstoppably but hit the mark: 1-0.
With that lead in their pocket, the Orange went to rest. While the strategy for the second half was being discussed, Caia van Maasakker and Malou Pheninckx were honored on the field for their services to the Orange squad. The pair saw after the break that Argentina, who had been traveling around the world for six weeks in preparation for the World Cup, was better in the third quarter.
That also resulted in the deserved equalizer. Agustina Gorzelany pushed the penalty corner, star Maria Granatto tipped the ball after a nice dive behind Josine Koning: 1-1.
The Argentine equalizer gave the go-ahead for a wonderful last part of this Pro League match. The players of both teams seemed to want to test how the opponent was doing. The duels were occasionally on the edge, but for the public in Nijmegen there was plenty to enjoy. Laurien Leurink was closest to the winning goal two minutes before the end. The SCHC attacker got the ball free for Succi, after a good action by attacker Maxime Kerstholt, who made her comeback after 3.5 years of absence. Leurink decided to flatten the ball, but came a little too much under the ball, causing it to sail over.
While the audience was already preparing for shoot-outs, Lidewij Welten got into a fight with Sanchez. A duel in which both went full. The Argentine pulled the stick away from Welten and was penalized with a penalty corner. Matla pushed hard, but Succi saved, making it shoot-outs just like Saturday.
Those were taken less well by the Netherlands than on Saturday, but because Koning was in top form, the bonus point after the decisive shoot-out by Pien Sanders went to the Orange. In a few weeks there may be a chance for Argentina to get revenge at the World Cup. That is already a duel to look forward to.
Netherlands* – Argentina 1-1
27. Yibbi Jansen 1-1 (sc)
43. Maria Granatto 1-1 (sc)
*winst na shoot-outs
Pien Sanders RAAK 1-0
Rocio Sanches MIS 1-0
Frédérique Matla MIS 1-0
Agustina Albertarrio RAAK 1-1
Kyra Fortune MIS 1-1
Sofia Toccalino MIS 1-1
Yibbi Jansen RAAK 2-1
Jimena Cedres RAAK 2 -2
Xan de Waard MIS 2-2
Victoria Granatto MIS 2-2
Agustina Albertarrio MIS 2-2
Pien Sanders HIT 3-2