FIH Pro League 2020: Netherlands doubles winning business in Buenos Aires

FIH Pro League 2020: Netherlands doubles winning business in Buenos Aires
FIH Pro League 2020: Netherlands doubles winning business in Buenos Aires

The day belonged to the Netherlands. They won both their games in the FIH Pro League, against the hosts, Argentina, before leaving for their next destination in a happy frame of mind. Weather was unpredictable and it did affect the second game, the women’s match,  but ultimately, hockey won.

For the second day in succession, the Netherlands men claimed a bonus point against Olympic champions Argentina by winning a shoot-out after regular time finished with the scores locked at 2-2. The result sees the Dutch strengthen their hold on second position in the FIH Hockey Pro League table, leaving them three points behind league leaders Belgium with both having played six matches.

Lucas Vila and Agustin Mazzilli established a 2-0 lead for Los Leones before the Netherlands pulled a goal back on the stroke of half time through Mirco Pruijser. The Oranje piled on the pressure in the third and fourth quarters but had to wait until the 56th minute before eventually finding the equaliser, with Player of the Match Robbert Kemperman firing home a first-time strike to trigger the shoot-out for the bonus point. Misses from Lucas Martinez and Mazzilli in the one-on-ones proved costly, with Jeroen Hertzberger, Seve van Ass, Thijs van Dam and Mirco Pruijser successfully converting to ensure that the Netherlands leave Argentina with four points from the maximum six on offer in this weekend’s matches.

Reflecting on the game, Netherlands ace Kemperman said: “I think we played really well, it was a solid game and we created a lot of chances. We can be happy with today, I think the score could have been much bigger. We created a lot of chances, a lot of PCs, but we won the shoot-out so in the end we can be happy.”

The second match in Buenos Aires was heavily affected by a lightning storm that resulted in a delay of nearly two hours, but eventually it was the Netherlands who emerged triumphant, taking a 3-1 win over hosts Argentina. The victory helped the Dutch extend their advantage at the top of the FIH Hockey Pro League, moving onto 15 points, five clear of New Zealand in second position and six ahead of third placed Argentina.

The weather delay arrived mid-way through the first quarter with the score at 0-0, but when play eventually resumed it was the host nation who took the lead thanks to Agustina Gorzelany’s low penalty corner early in the second period. The Netherlands restored parity on the stroke of half time through Frederique Matla’s penalty corner drag-flick before moving ahead in the third quarter when Yibbi Janssen found the target from another penalty corner situation. The scoring was completed in the last second of the match by Kyra Fortuin, who angled a Lidewij Welten pass into the Argentine net to earn a measure of revenge following Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Las Leonas.

“We wanted to play with more energy and I think we had a way better connection than we did yesterday”, said Netherlands star Laura Nunnink, who was named Player of the Match. “We worked really hard to be an option for each other and play a passing game, so that was the difference.”

Sunday 16 February

CENARD – Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Men’s result: Argentina 2, Netherlands 2 – Netherlands win 4-3 in shoot-out
Player of the Match: Robbert Kemperman (Netherlands)

Women’s result: Argentina 1, Netherlands 3
Player of the Match: Laura Nunnink (Netherlands)