(Match Report by FIH) – The race to secure an all-important top four finish in the FIH Pro League continued on Tuesday (4 June), with the Netherlands women taking a narrow win over Germany at HC Oranje-Rood in Eindhoven.
The Netherlands women took a huge stride towards confirming a top four finish – which comes with tickets to June’s FIH Pro League Grand Final in Amsterdam and the FIH Olympic qualifiers which take place later thi year – with a hard-earned 2-1 victory over Germany. Frederique Matla and Caia van Maasakker were on target for the hosts before Pia Maertens reduced the deficit to set up a tense finish, with the Dutch holding on to secure all three points.
The Oranje remain top of the women’s FIH Pro League standings having claimed 90 percent of the points available to them, with Germany currently occupying fifth position with 51.52 percent.
The Netherlands (FIH World Ranking: 1) versus Germany (WR:5) women’s match opened proceedings in Eindhoven, with the Oranje looking to complete an FIH Pro League double over Die Danas following their 1-0 triumph, courtesy of Frederique Matla’s third minute strike, in Monchengladbach in April.
Matla needed just six minutes to open the scoring in this contest, exchanging passes with Laurien Leurink seconds after Germany had lost possession deep in their own territory before passing into an unguarded goal to give the world champions an early advantage.
The Netherlands controlled the majority of the opening two periods but failed to extend their lead ahead of half time, giving the visiting Germans more than a glimmer of hope against the hosts.
Germany looked threatening in the early stages of the period, but the Dutch soon found their groove again would have extended their advantage where it not for an instinctive penalty corner save from goalkeeper Nathalie Kubalski, who touched Matla’s goal-bound deflection onto the post.
The Dutch doubled their lead 31 seconds into the fourth and final quarter thanks to the ever-reliable penalty corner drag-flicking ability of Caia van Maasakker, who arrowed an unstoppable effort into the top left corner of the goal.
However, Germany were quick to respond, with Pia Maertens getting ahead of her marker to touch home from close range with 12 minutes of the match remaining.
The strike set up a dramatic finish, with the visitors replacing goalkeeper Kubalski with an outfield player to ramp up the pressure on their opponents.
However, despite late chances for Germany, it was the Netherlands who claimed their ninth win in ten FIH Pro League matches to move one step closer to a place in the Grand Final competition at the end of this month.