Belfius EuroHockey Championship
Women’s Pool A: Spain 1 (B Garcia) Netherlands 1 (C van Maasakker)
Reigning champions the Netherlands were held to a second successive 1-1 draw as Spain rode their luck but held on for a famous win which keeps them top of the Pool A table.
All the scoring came in the first six minutes as Caia van Maasakker’s early corner was counter-acted by a Begona Garcia finish within a minute for the point to add to their win over Russia.
After an opening draw against Belgium, the Dutch would have hoped Van Massakker’s fifth minute drag-flick goal might have settled their nerves.
But they were caught by an exceptional sucker-punch from Spain as Belen Iglesias threaded a ball through to Garcia who got enough on the ball to slip it past the sliding Anne Veenendaal in the sixth minute.
It proved the end of the scoring but far from an end to the drama as the Dutch were unable to break down the Spanish defences, inspired by the brilliant Maria Ruiz in goal.
She produced a double save just before half-time to keep out Maria Verschoor and Xan de Waard, keeping parity into half-time. The Dutch would end up running up eight penalty corners but none drew any fruit but it was not all one-way traffic as Lola Riera tested Veenendaal in the third quarter.
As time wore on, the Dutch pressure grew more and more as Ruiz’s saves got better and better. The pick of them denied Lidewij Welten, reading a switch move brilliantly. Welten also cracked a shot against the post while van Maasakker saw a final second penalty corner tipped wide by Ruiz to retain the point.
While it means the Dutch have yet to win, if they can record a two-goal win over Russia in their final group game, they will advance to the final four once again.
Goalscorer Begona Garcia was delighted to get the result: “It was a very difficult game; we had to defend a lot and run a lot but we are really happy. Personally, I have always lost against the Dutch but it gives us a good feeling for the game against Belgium.”
Her coach Adrian Lock, meanwhile, said it was first draw since he has been head coach, but he was the assistant back at the 2011 Euros when Spain beat the Dutch.
Lock says it is part of his team’s ongoing rise: “We are growing as a team and looking to compete with higher ranked sides like Holland. Not playing in the Pro League, we don’t get the chance to play them much in competition, so I am really happy with the progress and the girls have something tangible to show we are getting better. We needed luck along the way in the same way Russia needed luck against us.”
He added that the standard in Europe is “getting stronger and stronger”.
“The top six here are all in the top nine in the world. It’s one of the toughest competitions around and there aren’t any easy games. Any slip up and there is no second chance.”
Lock’s beard has been the subject of its own Instagram account; at the moment, he is on the fence as to whether to keep growing it.
“It we are winning and I cut it off, people will complain but if I leave it on when I return home, people will complain as well! I need to find the balance.”
Umpires: H Harrison (ENG), M Meister (GER)
Netherlands – Spain
5’ Caia van Maasakker (PC) 0-1
6’ Begona Garcia (FG) 1-1