It was “back to business” for the Red Panthers: for this first game of the new Pro League season, the Belgian ladies immediately faced the brand new Olympic champion the Netherlands.
After their beautiful bronze medal at the European Championships last summer in the same Wagener stadium in Amstelveen, the Panthers wanted to show that they are more than worth their newly acquired place in the top 8 in the world, also against the undisputed number 1.
Unfortunately, the match started in the worst possible way for the Belgians. After just 21 seconds, the 1-0 was already on the board thanks to a hard shot by Lidewij Welten. Ode Belgian defense was cold caught! Despite a counterattack in the next minute and a shot by Gerniers that was parried by the Dutch goalkeeper, the Belgian team needed a few minutes to get over this uppercut. But gradually the Belgian ladies got better at their game and even became the most dangerous team at certain times. Ballenghien had a chance after 10 minutes for Nelen to pass, but her tip-in was stopped by the goalkeeper.
After 5 minutes in the second quarter, the Orange got a first penalty corner, but the Belgian defense cleared up meticulously. The Netherlands dominated the midfield, but it was the Belgians who created the most dangerous opportunities. One minute before the break, Struijk made a strong advance down the left wing, but Versavel just couldn’t deviate the ball into the goal. Besides the extremely fast goal against, the Red Panthers had a very solid first half.
In the third quarter, the Netherlands claimed most of the ball, but could never really put it through, partly thanks to a strong Belgian defense. But gradually the actions of the Dutch became sharper. Two minutes into the last quarter, goalkeeper D’Hooghe had to intervene urgently to prevent a second goal. Six minutes later it was a prize for the Orange: the young Freeke Moes made his way through the Belgian defence, kept running and dribbling and finished nicely for the 2-0.
2-0 was the final score in the end. The Red Panthers played a creditable game defensively and in midfield, but were unable to put down enough threat and ‘killer’s instinct’ offensively. The Netherlands showed a little more class at the important moments and deserved to win. But this was a promising performance by the Belgians.