Two tight matches took place at Estadio Mendocino de Hockey in Mendoza, Argentina as the German men and women faced off with Belgium on neutral grounds. For the women, Germany were unlucky to concede a penalty stroke in the final minute of the game to give up a 2-1 lead and send the game to a shootout, which fell fortunately for Die Danas. On the men’s side it was an even tighter affair with exceptional goalkeeping, a superb skill showcase and just one goal to split the difference. Tom Boon’s drag flick in the 51st minute gave Belgium the 1-0 advantage over Germany.
Germany v Belgium (women & men) – Estadio Mendocino de Hockey, Mendoza (ARG)
Germany quickly moved on from a first half they will want to forget to come away with a 2-2 draw and take the shootout bonus over Belgium in the teams’ second clash in Mendoza. The teams split the difference, each with a shootout win. Germany thought they might take the full three points if it were not for one errant tackle in the final minute that gave Belgium the tying penalty stroke opportunity.
Ambre Ballenghien played hero to finish flawlessly from the spot to send the game to a shootout. Nike Loren, Sara Strauss and Linnea Weidemann had calm and clean finishes for Germany, while a post from Charlotte Englebert and a slip from Michelle Struijk left Belgium falling short.
Despite the tie, it was unlucky that Belgium didn’t have the upper hand in the opening half. Belgium dominated in energy, possession and territory and if it were not for Noelle Rother, in goal for Germany, the score could have been very different by half time. Louise Versavel finished in the 10th minute on a penalty corner flick that beat Rother and Lorenz at the post to give Belgium the lead. Before the end of the quarter Germany were able to reply with a low drag flick in the other end courtesy of the length and levers of Laura Saenger.
Ballenghien had an uncontested blast on a penalty corner layoff option but the ball when high and wide of the German goal. Then, Versavel nearly doubled her goal tally as she effortlessly brought down a long aerial over her head and in the German circle. She just missed the connection on the bouncing ball and Rother was able to steer the ball clear. Soon after, Englebert drew everyone across the circle and nearly linked up wtih Ballenghien against the rush but the ball bounced just wide of the empty net. More penalty corners for Belgium ensued and Rother was up to task denying a flick from Ballenghien and the quick rebound from Abi Raye just before half.
In the third quarter, Germany was still down a player with Lorenz serving minutes from her yellow card in the second quarter. An attack down the left side led to a well-worked give and go from Sonja Zimmerman back to Pia Maertens that was then tipped in by Sara Strauss to give Germany the 2-1 lead. Germany had several chances to push their lead with Lena Micheel and Jette Fleschütz nearly adding markers.
In the final minute of the game a stick check by Amelie Wortmann on a streaking Englebert gave Belgium the opportunity they needed to tie the game. Ballenghien finished to force the shootout and Germany the bonus point with the 3-2 result.
Germany’s Fleschütz was named player of the match and said after the game: “I think we are very happy that we won today. After the last two games it was important today that we won. We are looking forward to the next game tomorrow.”
From the Belgium camp, Louise Versavel said: “We played a pretty good game but there were a few moments that we struggled and were just behind them. In the end we fought hard and got back to 2-2 and the shootouts were just not for us today but, overall, I thought it was a pretty good game.”
On the men’s side, Belgium and Germany played a fiery, heated and physical game with both teams creating incredible opportunities that were met with as equal defensive efforts. A penalty corner finish from Tom Boon in the 51st minute was all that split the difference between the two teams.
There were enough chances in the first half alone to make a highlight reel worthy of studying with the exception of slight lack of precision on finish. Germany’s Teo Hinrichs smashed a ball across the circle that just missed a far post deflection in the opening quarter. From there, it was stellar defence and goalkeeping in both ends that kept the game scoreless at half.
Alexander Hendrickx was denied from the top of the penalty corner battery on multiple occasions by Alexander Stadler, in goal for Germany. Linus Müller then bravely turned away a penalty corner rebound from Nicolas de Kerpel. Belgium continued to show their attacking prowess as Boon fed a slicing ball to de Kerpel in free play but the resulting back-hand rocket was calmly steered clear by Stadler.
The game stalled through the second half with video referrals, physical plays and cards but at the end of the day Boon’s goal was all that mattered in the final result. Both teams have one more match up, each with a game to go against Argentina.
Belgium’s de Kerpel was named Player of the Game and said after the match: “A hockey game that ends with 1-0 says a lot. Both teams can defend really well and we had a PC goal go in for us and I guess that was just the difference today.”
German captain Mats Grambusch added, “First of all it was a very aggressive one today with quite a lot of decisions going both ways…but other than that we had a decent start. They were a lot better than us in the third and fourth quarter and we tried right to the end (to tie it up). We needed a bit more luck in the opposite D and we could have made a run at it but unfortunately it wasn’t for us today.”
FIH Pro League action continues 8 November with Argentina and Germany men and women squaring off and the Mendoza series wraps up 9 November with Argentina men and women hosting Belgium.
FIH Pro League – 7 November 2022
Estadio Mendocino de Hockey, Mendoza (ARG)
Result: Women’s Match 4
Germany 2, Belgium 2 (3-2 shootout)
Player of the Game: Jette Fleschütz (GER)
Umpires: Rachel Williams (ENG), Bruce Bale (ENG), Federico Garcia (URU-reserve), Tyler Klenk (CAN-video)
Result: Men’s Match 10
Germany 0, Belgium 1
Player of the Match: Nicolas de Kerpel (BEL)
Umpires: Federico Garcia (URU), Tyler Klenk (CAN), Rachel Williams (ENG-reserve), Bruce Bale (ENG-video)
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