FIH Pro League: German women on winning spree
Every team worth its salt would love to win its home match to the great delight of its fans. And this is what German women hockey team did in the FIH Pro League.
They made it three wins from their last four FIH Pro League matches by defeating a resilient USA on Tuesday evening, edging closer to that all-important top four thanks to a 2-1 triumph on home soil at Mönchengladbach’s Hockeypark. A final quarter penalty stroke from Germany’s Nike Lorenz settled the contest, with Taylor West of USA cancelling out an early strike from Lena Micheel.
Germany currently occupy fifth position having claimed 58.33 percent of the points available to it, with fourth placed Australia – who face a tough away match against second-placed Argentina this weekend – one place ahead in fourth with 62.96 percent. Defeat for USA leaves it sitting at the foot of the table with 13.33 percent.
Germany (FIH World Ranking: 5) came into the contest with the USA (WR:12) looking for a second successive win, aiming to add to its 4-1 victory over China – a match in which Lorenz scored twice – at the weekend. However, it faced USA team that had gained a measure of confidence after a commendable performance in London, holding Olympic champions Great Britain to a 1-1 draw before missing out on the bonus point by losing the shoot-out.
While Die Danas were the superior side in the first two quarters, they certainly did not have it all their own way. Germany’s Lena Micheel scored the only goal of the half when she squeezed the ball between the legs of USA shot-stopper Kelsey Bing in the 11th minute, with the Americans frustrating the hosts for long periods before almost equalising just seconds before the interval when Danielle Grega’s rasping shot was saved wonderfully by the diving Nathalie Kubalski, who tipped the shot onto the crossbar.
Both sides had chances to score in the third quarter, but the USA played arguably their best hockey of the match in this period and snatched a leveller on the stroke of quarter-time. The goal came from a penalty corner, with Kubalski blocking two efforts but could do little about the third as Taylor West flicked into the roof of Germany’s net from close range.
West was in the thick of the action early in the fourth quarter, blocking two penalty corner efforts before goalkeeper Bing kept out another with an athletic save as the home favourites turned the screw. That pressure eventually told when a goal-bound strike hit the body of Anna Dessoye, resulting in a penalty stroke that was confidently converted by Nike Lorenz, sending Bing the wrong way to find the bottom right corner.
The Americans rallied in the latter stages, but Germany showed no sign of panic, doing exactly what was required in order to see out the win.“I’m really happy that we could win this game in the end”, said Player of the Match Lena Micheel, before reflecting on scoring the game’s opening goal. “I think it was an important goal because it was at the beginning of the match and it was really good for us to have the lead. We said before the game that we wanted to get our basics done, and we knew that it was going to be a hard fight. It was as we expected, and we are lucky to end this home series [in Mönchengladbach] with a last win.”