The Netherlands women extended their winning run to nine matches this season as FIH Hockey Pro League action moved to Rourkela, India on Monday.
While the United States produced a strong defensive effort, they couldn’t prevent the defending champions from claiming a comfortable 4-0 victory.
Later in the day, China and hosts India played out another tightly contested encounter which the Chinese edged 2-1.
(Women’s) Netherlands 4 - 0 USA
The Netherlands continued their dominance with a comfortable 4-0 victory over the USA. Ultimately it came down to a tussle between a rampant Dutch attack and a resilient American defence. The USA had arguably the best opportunity of a goalless first quarter, but it was their first wave penalty corner runners and the excellent Jennifer Rizzo in goal who kept them in contention under regular pressure. The Dutch eventually found a goal in the 16th minute, the penalty corner variation back to injector Freeke Moes handing her the easiest of flicks into the net. Their second goal came in the 21st minute, Fay van der Elst pouncing on the scraps in front of goal when the USA couldn’t clear the ball after a double save from Rizzo. The impressive keeper made another double save before half-time, meaning the USA were just 2-0 down at the break.
The USA forced a good save from Josine Koning early in the second half, but the Dutch then intercepted a ball outside their circle and worked it up the length of the field for Felice Albers to finish from an exquisite cross by Elzemiek Zandee in the 36th minute. The Netherlands then ran rampant for the rest of the half, but the American defensive unit, with Kelsey Bing in goal, was outstanding. Only Van der Elst could find a goal, deflecting one through Bing from close range to wrap up the victory.
Fay van der Elst of the Netherlands was awarded player of the match and said: “I think we were very attacking today. Sometimes the last pass wasn’t of that good a quality but when it was, we finished it.”
(Women’s) China 2 - 1 India
China again came from behind to beat hosts India 2-1 in a near-carbon copy of the previous match between the two sides. India had plenty of opportunity in the first quarter and it was no surprise when Sangita Kumari put them ahead from a deflection directly in front of goal in the seventh minute. China hit back in the 14th minute through a Bingfeng Gu drag flick off a penalty corner. The Indians looked dangerous going forward but couldn’t convert their chances, while the Chinese defensive structure again proved difficult to beat. The second quarter remained goalless and the teams headed into half-time all square on 1-1.
China put the Indian defence under plenty of pressure in the third quarter, but they couldn’t find a goal and the match went into the final period evenly poised. Gu eventually gave China the lead with a penalty stroke in the 53rd minute and India couldn’t find a way back.
The player of the match award went to China’s Bingfeng Gu who said: “Today we played very positively and then we worked hard together as a team and took our opportunities.”
Top Scorer Armband
To celebrate the talented goal-scorers throughout the season the FIH has introduced the Top Scorer Armband, which is being worn by the leading goal-scorers in the men's and women's competitions in the current season, as a visual mark for the fans, and for the players to wear proudly, match after match.
Current Top Scorers:
Women - Yibbi Jansen (NED) (11 goals)
Men – Jip Janssen (NED) (4 goals)
To see the current standings in the FIH Hockey Pro League, click here.
FIH Hockey Pro League – 12 February 2024
Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium, Rourkela (IND)
Result: Match 17 (W)
Netherlands 4 - 0 United States
Player of the match: Fay van der Elst (NED)
Umpires: Kristy Robertson (AUS), David Tomlinson (NZL), Aleisha Neumann (AUS-video)
Result: Match 18 (W)
China 2 - 1 India
Player of the match: Bingfeng Gu (CHN)
Umpires: Zeke Newman (AUS), Martin Madden (SCO), David Tomlinson (NZL-video)