The Netherlands has graced the return of Eva de Goede with a stunning 6-0 victory in the Pro League over a weak China. It was the last official game for the Orange squad in the run-up to the World Cup, which starts on July 1.
There she was again. The medical miracle of Orange. The player who openly doubted her hockey future seven months ago. “I don’t know if I can still play hockey professionally,” she said a few days after she suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury.
There was a very big question mark behind the career of Eva de Goede. Two-time world player of the year, three-time Olympic champion. In South Africa, the country of her fiancé, she worked in the lee on her recovery. The World Cup became a dream that came closer and closer. Because there was a few percent chance that it was feasible after all. She thought of other athletes who also recovered faster from the same injury. To football player Memphis Depay, for example.
Cautious applause after three and a half minutes
Meanwhile, there was also caution. Don’t want to be too optimistic. Any setback could put a cruel end to her advance. China-home became a dot on the horizon. At the last official duels before the World Cup, she wanted to be there again. If you could, of course.
That became clear after three and a half minutes. Then De Goede entered the field. A gentle round of applause came from the stands, which again embraced his number 24. Striking: the HGC midfielder mainly played on the left side of the Orange squad, which pulled a few stones from the Chinese wall of national coach Alyson Annan after ten difficult minutes.
It then crumbled rapidly. First, a stupid hand-in ball on the back line led in the 1-0. Felice Albers took advantage, accelerated and found Maria Verschoor who took care of the opening goal. Two minutes later it was Albers himself who was able to run free and shot the ball through the Chinese keeper.
End of unusual drought
Shortly afterwards, at the beginning of the second quarter, the Netherlands got two corners in a row. The first was cracked, which was then hit by Frédérique Matla. The striker has not scored for the national team in the past three matches, an unusual drought for her.
It was an effortless goodbye duel for the Orange, which will start the World Cup in a week and a half. Within five minutes of the break, the Netherlands received two penalty shots, both of which were used by – again – Matla, who boosted her self-confidence and reached the limit of seventy goals in Orange. In the same quarter, the home side received help from keeper Xinhuan Li, who completely misjudged a long pass. She came out, was wrong and therefore Lidewij Welten had a free passage to the 6-0.
Where is De Goede?
Meanwhile, from the stands the gaze went to the bench. De Goede was no longer there at the end of quarter three. The routine was still in the field at 4-0, but then left inconspicuously. In the final phase she did not return within the lines.
Her teammates, meanwhile, went on the hunt for a seventh goal. It failed to materialize, despite a number of good chances. The Orange squad can especially wonder why it went so much easier in the second meeting than a day earlier, when China was beaten 2-1. That big win was a nice boost towards the World Cup, where the Netherlands will face much more resistance than today.
And The Good? It appeared afterwards with a smile in front of all the cameras and notepads. She had made the agreed-upon minutes—60 percent of her ability—and thus took a major hurdle toward the completion of that medical miracle.
Nederland – China 6-0 (3-0)
13. 1-0 Verschoor
15. 2-0 Albers
18. 3-0 Matla (sc)
32. 4-0 Matla (sb)
35. 5-0 Matla (sb)
45. 6-0 Welten