After a season in the Promotion Division, the women of Oranje-Rood managed to return to the Hoofdklasse. Push was beaten 3-2. Hope Ralph was invaluable in Eindhoven with two goals.
Tears of happiness, liters of champagne, hugging and partying players. Orange-Red has done it. After the huge disappointment of almost a year ago, the team of coach Rob Haantjes returns to the highest level. The Orange-Red is champion of the Promotion Class two games before the end. And they will know that in Eindhoven and the surrounding area.
Orange-Red (first as Orange Black) acted at the highest level for thirteen years. It even made the playoffs in 2018. How different it was last season. When the superpower sank ingloriously to the second level. And with only six remaining players (Lisa Scheerlinck, Kim Hendrix, Floor Hoogers, Vivienne Peters, Janneke van de Venne and Carmen Victoria), it was highly questionable what we could expect from the team from Brabant.
There was one who always kept hope: coach Rob Haantjes. Shortly after the relegation, he announced that he thought it was completely unjustified that his team was relegated. Because a club like Oranje-Rood belonged in the big league, according to him. In August he was sure : ‘I’m not running away from anything’, he said then. ‘We want the highest level.’
Orange-Red had to start again. Build a squad. Twelve players relegated. The growth came mainly from their own youth and clubs from the region. But Orange-Red became stronger every round. Grown and picked up points. And ensured that May 7, 2023 became a day with a golden edge in club history.
Because on Sunday afternoon the team won against competitor Push, but that was anything but easy. The orange-red smoke fumes from the flares and fireworks had only just cleared when the visitors from Breda were already leading 0-1. Freeke van Dongen tapped in the opening goal from close range. Push was also entitled to that: after all, the team also got three corners in the first quarter. Three times they opted for Pien Holleman’s flats, but each time without results.
On the other hand, there were opportunities for Guusje Moes and Lisa Scheerlinck, each time after crosses from New Zealand’s Hope Ralph. They both succumbed to the championship pressure. Tapping in at the post has never seemed so difficult. But did Orange-Red have no chance? No definitely not. Push defender Freke van Tilburg later plucked a penalty corner from the intersection on the goal line, the greatest opportunity for the home team. Where Push opted for the Holleman recipe twice more from the head circle. Again without result.
What was Groningen doing?
In the meantime, the eye of the public in the full stands at the Genneper Parken did not fall on the game of Oranje-Rood, but on the standings of competitor Groningen. Who visibly had a hard time with MOP. Groningen damage would mean that a draw against Push for the Orange-Red would also be enough for the championship.
But there was no question of an equal score. That changed when the Oranje-Rood came out of the dressing room. And the stage fright had given way to guts. That was immediately rewarded: Hope Ralph tipped in a penalty corner variant: 1-1.
The Orange-Red came back, but was awarded two more penalty corners. Opportunities for Push, but without results. And if it doesn’t fall on the one hand… Indeed. Oranje-Rood made that so redeeming second goal. Again it was Hope Ralph tapping in. Thus, the New Zealand was invaluable. And it didn’t stop there: Madelief de Beer also pushed in a penalty ball two minutes before the end: 3-1. In the end, the game ended in 3-2: Push used a play corner via Holleman.
Meanwhile, the rain fell from the sky in Eindhoven, but the champagne shower was much more important for all hockey fans from the City of Light. Oranje-Rood is back at the highest level in the Netherlands after a season.
Orange-Red – Push 3-2 (0-1)
10. Freeke van Dongen 0-1
39. Hope Ralph 1-1 (sc)
67. Hope Ralph 2-1
68. Madelief de Beer 3-1 (sb)
70. Pien Holleman 3-2 (sc)