Pro-League: Young Dutch Team Takes Revenge With Van Den Assem in the Lead

The Dutch women’s team took revenge on Sunday for the 3-1 defeat against England on Saturday. At the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Center in London, the young team of interim national coach Jamilon Mülders defeated the experienced home team 2-1. Defender Ireen van den Assem played a leading role with a goal and an assist in the FIH Pro League match.

Relative to Saturday’s game, Mülders had made one change: Maria Steensma, who made her debut on Saturday, was replaced by Tessa Beetsma, another debutant. Jersey number 52 replaced jersey number 55.

The high jersey numbers say everything about this current Pro League season of the Dutch team, which mainly uses the prestigious competition in away games to cheerfully experiment and give young talents a chance. For example, Mülders already went to India with an inexperienced team and the average age and the number of caps of the Orange this weekend was again miles below that of the opponent.

Orange debutant Tessa Beetsma. Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek

Due to the absence of (most) internationals from SCHC and Den Bosch, the skeleton had been ripped out of the team. The mostly young, talented replacements were once again not inferior to the much more experienced England, but just like Saturday, the Netherlands lacked scoring ability for a long time.

Mulders will be delighted with the win, but it was much more interesting for him to see the form of the players who will have to do it in less than a month during the World Cup in Spain and the Netherlands. The interim national coach will have to make decisions quickly about his selection. The heart of his team is formed by the players who won gold at the Tokyo Games last year, minus the retired: Caia van Maasakker, Lauren Stam and Malou Pheninckx.

Eve the Good

Question mark is what Mülders does with Eva de Goede. He seemed to have no chance of participating in the World Cup due to a serious knee injury, but the experienced midfielder does not just accept that. In all silence – only occasionally De Goede shares a message on her social media channels after a training – she is working on her recovery. How far she is exactly remains unclear to the outside world, but Mülders will have a short line with the 251-time international.

Eva de Goede was an attentive spectator last week at the Pro League match of the Orange against Argentina. Left keeper Anne Veenendaal. Photo: Willem Vernes

It’s a bad sign that despite her months-long absence, no other captain has yet been named. On Saturday and Sunday Maria Verschoor wore the belt, she is now the umpteenth in line who can call herself captain. It cannot be ruled out that Mülders will nevertheless include De Goede in the selection and designate an extra reserve in case the captain does not make the race against the clock.


With or without De Goede, there still seem to be a few vacancies. For example, in the back, where the absent Renée van Laarhoven probably seems to have earned her spot. In addition, Ireen van den Assem, who has returned from her Orange pension, and Amsterdam defender Sabine Plönissen are also eligible for a World Cup spot in the defense. They both played both Saturday and Sunday and did their utmost to convince Mülders. Plönissen did himself a disservice on Sunday by making a mistake after ten minutes, allowing Elena Rayer to make the 1-0 for England.

Van den Assem, on the other hand, scored the 1-1 from a penalty corner at the start of the third quarter and a few minutes later gave the assist from a corner from which Tessa Clasener was able to score the 1-2. With that, she handed over her business card.

The midfield of Orange is perhaps the best occupied line, with ‘certainties’ such as Xan de Waard, Laura Nunnink, Margot van Geffen, Maria Verschoor and Marloes Keetels. Yibbi Jansen can already be written down there because of her good game and penalty corner. That leaves little room for newcomers. Stella van Gils was the revelation for the Orange at the European Championship and the Games last season, but again did not make too strong an impression against England this weekend. Marente Barentsen (Hurley) rose like a comet after the Games, but you can question whether she is already World Cup worthy.


Then up front. There, Lidewij Welten, Frédérique Matla and Laurien Leurink can commit themselves to prolonging the World Cup title, which they captured in London in 2018. Despite being absent for a long time, Felice Albers is also an indispensable part of Orange. This weekend against England, some of her Olympic form was visible at times. That is good news for Orange.

That still offers limited space for others. Freeke Moes (Amsterdam) is a serious contender, as is Kyra Fortuyn, who was absent on Saturday and Sunday. Moes was diligent on Sunday, also had opportunities, but did not really show himself to be a killer.

Maxime Kerstholt. Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek

In the double against England, Mülders gave Joosje Burg (Den Bosch) and Maxime Kerstholt the opportunity to prove himself in the attack. Kerstholt, who has had a good season at Pinoké, gave the doubters about her effectiveness some arguments on Sunday by missing an excellent opportunity after four minutes. After good preparatory work by Albers, Kerstholt bird was free a few meters from the goal. Instead of hitting the ball through the net or the plank, so to speak, she gave Maddie Hinch the chance to make a save from batted position.

After Hinch also saved a backhand from Albers, Plönissen gave the English Rayer the opportunity after a stopping error to put the game ratio in the home team at 1-0. That was also the score after the first quarter.

Van den Assem

The best chances were for the Orange in the second quarter. Moes missed the biggest after a corner variant, debutant Beetsma was too far out of position and Verschoor saw a goal (rightly) disallowed.

After the break, the Orange finally rewarded the excellent game with goals. First, Ireen van den Assem used a penalty corner herself, by flattening the ball past her teammate at Tilburg, Maddie Hinch. A few minutes later, Van den Assem neatly served Tessa Clasener from a new corner, who gave the Netherlands the lead with her first international goal: 1-2.

Ireen van den Assem with a big smile. Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek

Fiona Morgenstern should have closed the game early in the closing second of the third quarter after good preparatory work by Moes. But the Orange-Red player failed in the finish.

It was therefore still somewhat tense in the fourth quarter. Although Orange didn’t have too much trouble holding up against the English. For example, Orange took revenge well and especially Van den Assem will fly back to the Netherlands with a big smile.

England – Netherlands 1-2 (1-0)
10. Elena Rayer 1-0
39. Ireen van den Assem 1-1 (sc)
42. Tessa Clasener 1-2 (sc)

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