The Dutch team kept its hopes alive to reach the World League Super Final by staging a spirited performance as they beat Spain 12-11 in a thrilling match in Budapest (HUN).
After conceding 17 goals from Hungary on Day 1 (in a friendly) and losing to Greece 15-16 yesterday in the World League, all head coach Arno Havenga wanted to see was a much organised defence from the Dutch team. His players responded well to their coach’s request as they held 2019 world silver medallist and European title-holder Spain on a single goal in the opening period and maintained a much tighter defence till the end.
It took 7:17 minutes for the Spaniards to get on the scoreboard but soon they found their rhythm and could outplay the Dutch defence more often. However, the Netherlands also offered some brilliant shotmaking so it stood 6-6 at halftime. However, in the third they seemed to be running out of gas since – due to disciplinary reasons – they had to play this game with eleven players. The Spaniards could take the lead for the first time in the afternoon, soon they doubled their advantage and could hold their two-goal lead for most of the time. Still, Catharina van der Sloot came up with another fantastic action shot 0.5 seconds before the buzzer to give some hope for her team (9-10).
It turned out to be more, a huge booster, as the next three goals also came from the Netherlands in the fourth while the Spaniards lost their composure in attack. Simone van der Kraats’ fifth goal in the game gave the Dutch a 12-10 lead with 4:58 to go and Spain could score one only 1:20 minutes from time. Despite having two players less, the Dutch did a much better job in the last period and that kept them in the race for the Super Final – they need at least a shootout win against Russia (the latter one might the organiser and may have a granted berth). At the same time, Spain’s first loss in this qualification means that Hungary finished atop in the prelims.
Netherlands v Spain 12-11
Details, stats, play-by-play here.
1. Hungary 16 pts (5 wins, 1 loss), 2. Spain 14 pts (5W, 1L), 3. Greece 9 pts (3W/3L), 4. Netherlands 8 pts (3W/2L), 5. Italy 7 pts (2W, 4L), 6. Russia 6 pts (2W/3 L), 7. France, 0 pts (6L)
Remaining match: Netherlands v Russia