FIH Pro League: German women win home game against Olympic champion Great Britain
FIH Pro League: Gablac double gives Germany women home debut triumph over Olympic champions Great Britain
Hannah Gablac scored twice as Germany’s women claimed victory over Great Britain in its first home match of the FIH Pro League, running out 2-0 winners against the Olympic champions on a rain-hit day at Mönchengladbach’s Hockeypark.
Germany remains fifth in the standings but has improved its point percentage to narrow the gap on fourth-placed Australia. Great Britain remains in seventh place, but a drop in its point percentage sees them lose ground on sixth-placed New Zealand.
The long awaited home debut for Germany’s women (FIH World Ranking: 5) started later than initially planned, with heavy rain forcing a 55 minute delay to their clash with Great Britain (WR:2). Once play eventually started it was Die Danas who were in charge, having an early goal ruled out by an umpire video referral before forcing the Rio 2016 gold medallists to soak up plenty of early pressure. However, Great Britain almost took the lead against the run of play when a penalty corner drag-flick from Grace Balsdon seemed to catch Germany goalkeeper Julia Sonntag unsighted, with the shot-stopper perhaps fortunate to see the ball clip the inside of her left kicker before travelling away to safety.
Germany controlled the second period almost from start to finish, with Great Britain captain Hollie Pearne-Webb making two crucial blocks in front of goal before Nike Lorenz wasted a glorious chance when she failed to test Great Britain goalkeeper Amy Tennant with a strike from the top of the circle. Tennant’s contribution to keeping Germany off the score-board was huge, saving brilliantly from Pia Maertens, Charlotte Stapenhorst and Nina Notman to maintain British hopes of a positive away result.
Germany’s talismanic attacker Charlotte Stapenhorst showed her defensive worth shortly after half time, producing a breathtaking goal-line stop to deny Giselle Ansley’s penalty corner drag-flick from sailing into the net. It proved to be a decisive moment, with Germany finally getting the goal that their dominance deserved in the 38th minute when Hannah Gablac pounced, squeezing a shot on the turn to past Tennant to finally break British resistance.
The domination from the home side continued in the final quarter, with Tennant again coming to Great Britain’s rescue to deny Lena Micheel and the ever-dangerous Stapenhorst. Great Britain head coach Mark Hager threw caution to the wind in the final five minutes, replacing Tennant with an outfield player in the hope of snatching an equaliser. However, it was Germany who took advantage, with Gablac sealing a 2-0 win for the hosts by firing into an empty net with two minutes remaining.
“We defended really really well, used our chances and we are really happy with our first win at home”, said Player of the Match Charlotte Stapenhorst, before thanking the fans who had braved the bad weather. “It was a good performance. Loads of confidence comes from this [victory]. We play Holland on Friday, and we are hoping for better weather.”
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Reflecting on the defeat, Great Britain captain Hollie Pearne-Webb said: “It was a tough game and we are extremely disappointed with the result, and the final two quarters [in particular]. A lot of lessons to be learned, moving forward. I don’t think we can blame the weather, I think we have to look at ourselves and our own performance. We weren’t good enough on the ball, and I think that is what cost us today.”
Result: Women’s Match 35
Germany 2, Great Britain 0
Player of the Match: Charlotte Stapenhorst (GER)