Hockey at its best was on full display as a last quarter onslaught from the Netherlands Women’s team was followed by an impressive performance from the Dutch Men as they defeated their Argentinean counterparts in Match Day 3 of the FIH Pro League 2023-24 Season.
After going behind in the 18th minute, the Netherlands scored four times in the final quarter, including three goals in the last three minutes, to run out 4-1 winners in the women’s match.
Then in the men’s encounter, led by captain Thierry Brinkman and Player of the Match Terrance Pieters, the Netherlands proved too good for the hosts in a 3-0 result to leave all three men’s teams with a win a piece at the halfway mark of the mini-tournament in Santiago del Estero.
(Women’s) Argentina vs Netherlands 1-4
The highly anticipated match between the top two teams from last year’s Pro League season lived up to the hype as the Netherlands and Argentina turned on a classic.
It was a first half of quality chances at both ends. Argentinean goalkeeper Cristina Cosentino denied drag flicks from Frederique Matla and Yibbi Jansen with stunning saves.
At the other end, Netherlands goalkeeper Josine Koning was forced to be at her best to keep out Agustina Gorzelany.
Urged on by a vocal home crowd and with Eugenia Trinchinetti pulling the strings in midfield, the home side was matching it with the world number one ranked team and they went ahead in scintillating fashion in the 18th minute courtesy of a Maria Granatto stick deflection from a low Gorzelany drag flick.
With their lead intact at half time, Argentina braced for the Netherlands wave which was always going to come. Early in the third quarter, the door opened for Matla but some desperate Argentinean defending blocked her attempted effort.
The Netherlands’ cause was not helped when Maria Verschoor was shown a green card before receiving a yellow card moments after returning to the pitch to leave them with ten players for half of the third quarter.
But despite Vershcoor’s absence, the Netherlands were starting to dominate and almost went level when Cosentino saved her own blushes when she made a diving save after initially failing to clear a simple ball close to her line.
The Argentine shot stopper was then required to produce a brilliant save from a Jansen drag flick.
The constant Dutch pressure eventually saw them equalise through a familiar source as Eva Drummond-de Goede pounced from close range after Cosentino could not properly deal with a Matla drag flick.
Argentina’s circle entries had dried up as the Dutch turned on the blowtorch, Drummond’s goal triggering a stunning late show from the team in orange.
Having drawn level, the Netherlands went ahead in the 57th minute when Felice Albers came up with a finish that had to be seen to be believed, lifting the ball on the reverse into the underside of the crossbar and into the roof of the net to silence the home crowd.
A thunderous Joosje Burg tomahawk made it 3-0 before a rare field goal from Jansen in the final minute put the icing on top.
“It was a tough first half but the second half was really good from our side,” said Albers who was named Player of the Match.
“We scored some really nice goals so I’m happy with the result and looking forward to taking on Argentina again.”
(Men’s) Argentina v Netherlands 0-3
Looking to rebound after their loss to Great Britain 24 hours earlier, the Netherlands came out full of intent against a home side that was coming off a rest day.
A Thierry Brinkman tomahawk that Tomas Santiago saw late came close to opening the scoring but the Argentinean goalkeeper was good enough to get his left mit in the way.
Then in the 12th minute a well worked baseline move ended with Terrance Pieters beating Santiago from close range to put the Netherlands in front.
In the 22nd minute the lead almost doubled when Derck de Vilder had Santiago beaten but his opposite number Nicolas della Torre managed to clear the ball inches before it was about to bounce across the goal line.
Argentina had some repeated circle entries towards the end of the first half but could not capitalise on their period of dominance.
A diving Maico Casella came agonisingly close to getting a stick on a tantalising ball into the circle that also alluded Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak.
But the Netherlands are defending FIH Pro League champions for a reason and they made Argentina pay within 90 seconds of the second half starting. Creating a turnover in a dangerous area, Pieters pinpointed his pass through the legs of Agustin Machelett to find Brinkman and the Dutch captain made no mistake to swat the ball past Santiago.
Nicolas Keenan missed a glorious chance to peg a goal back when he watched his shot fly just wide.
Then with five minutes remaining a flying Pieters shared the ball with Steijn van Heijningen and Santiago could only pad it away in the path of Tijmen Reyenga who made it 3-0 and ensure the Netherlands claimed all three points.
“Today was really good…better than yesterday,” said Pieters who was named Player of the Match.
“After losing to Great Britain we wanted to perform better tonight. We love playing in Argentina in front of this amazing crowd so for us it was a beautiful game.”
The FIH Pro League 2023-24 Season continues tomorrow with Argentina against Great Britain.
To see the current standings in the FIH Hockey Pro League, click here.
FIH Pro League – 8 December 2023
Santiago del Estero (ARG)
Result: Women’s Match 3
Argentina 1-4 Netherlands
Player of the Match: Felice Albers (NED)
Umpires: Gabriel Labate (ARG), Jonathan Altamirano (MEX), Irene Presenqui (ARG-video)
Result: Men’s Match 3
Argentina 0-3 Netherlands
Player of the Match: Terrance Pieters (NED)
Umpires: German Montes de Oca (ARG), Federico Silva (ARG), Ayanna McClean (TTO-video)