The women’s FIH Pro League kicked off with its opening game of the fourth season in thrilling fashion after Belgium came from behind to tie Germany 3-3 in regular time. Six rounds of shoot-outs ended with a Charlotte Englebert finish and Elodie Picard save to secure the bonus point for the Red Panthers in Mendoza, Argentina. To see the current women’s FIH Pro League Standings, click here.

On the men’s side, India scored in every quarter to put away seven against the New Zealand Black Sticks. Graham Reid’s side enjoyed the 7-4 victory to earn their second win in three games. Over in Mendoza, Germany battled it out with Belgium and ultimately were able to secure the 3-2 win on a Tom Grambusch penalty stroke finish. This was Germany and Belgium’s first game of the season. To see the current men’s FIH Pro League Standings, click here.

India v New Zealand (men) – Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneswar (IND)

It was a high-scoring game at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar as India beat New Zealand 7-4. The first 18 minutes of the game featured six goals as the forwards of both the teams put in some hard work to enter their opponents’ circle. After a goal by Simon Child in the second minute of the game, Indian skipper Harmanpreet Singh levelled it on his third PC attempt by flicking down to the right of Black Sticks keeper George Enersen.

Sam Lane and Jake Smith converted two more in the first quarter as NZL took a lead of two goals. It was then India’s time to make a comeback as they scored two goals in quick succession to level the score 3-3. It was youngster Karthi Selvam and Harmanpreet who pulled one each for the Men in Blue.

Karthi Selvam got his name on the scoresheet again with a brilliant steal from the NZL defender right in front of the shooting circle. India enjoyed the maximum possession as the scoresheet read 7-3 with just seven minutes remaining in the game. NZL pulled one back with a PC conversion by captain Nic Woods but it was too late as India got their second win of the FIH Hockey Pro League season.

Hardik Singh, who was adjudged the Player of the Match, gave the credit to the whole team for their win: “Coming back from a two-goal deficit to win it 7-4 is something that doesn’t happen every time. We were all pumped up during the half-time as the coaches and seniors devised some strategies and asked to keep more ball possession. We followed what the coaches said and the result is in front of you all.”

Captain Nic Woods was dejected as he believed they could have done better after being up by two goals: “We gave away the possession very easily and also our defenders made some mistakes which cost us the match. We will work on those mistakes and do better against Spain, tomorrow.”

Belgium v Germany (women & men) – Estadio Mendocino de Hockey, Mendoza (ARG)

In the opening women’s match up it was a 3-3 affair between Belgium and Germany that finished off with a 4-3 shootout in favour of the Red Panthers. Belgium crawled their way back from a 3-1 deficit at half time to tie the game by the fourth quarter. Emma Puvrez opened the scoring on Belgium’s first penalty corner in the opening minute of the game. The initial flick from Ambre Ballenghien was saved by the stick of keeper Nathalie Kubalski but the rebound fell favourably for Puvrez. Just two minutes later Germany leveled the score on a penalty corner of their own as Nike Lorenz put away a low push past the stick of Elena Sotgiu.

Germany went on to dominate in possession in the second quarter and it paid off with a pair of goals less than a minute apart from Pauline Heinz and Leena Micheel. Heinz buried a bouncing ball after a baseline run from Charlotte Stapenhorst drew the Belgium defence away from the dangerous spaces. Turnovers plagued Belgium and Heinz crafted her way into the circle to feed Micheel who picked up her own rebound and go up 3-1 at half time.

A booming quick free hit from Barbara Nelen found the stick of a striding Abi Raye to get Belgium back within one in the 41st minute. Belgium drew level on a penalty corner in the 48th minute when Englebert buried a rebound after the initial shot was blocked. Both keepers were tested late in the game but neither would break so the game was forced to go to a shoot-out.

After six rounds of shootouts it was a second shoot-out finish from Englebert and a poke tackle from Picard on Germany’s Sara Strauss that sealed the deal for Belgium, 4-3.

Player of the Match Michelle Struijk said after the game: “It was a really difficult game for us. I think we need to work more together, press together and when we win the ball, keep the ball. So, there’s lots to improve on but I am really excited and happy with the win.”

“I think it’s very unlucky that we lost,” said Germany captain Lorenz after the match. “We were up 3-1 so we definitely have to bring it home. I think we need to understand what works well and keep on repeating that.”

On the men’s side the script was flipped as Grambusch’s penalty stroke in the 55th minute broke the deadlock between Germany and Belgium that was 2-2 from early in the third quarter. The 3-2 win gives Germany their first victory in as many games for the fourth season of the FIH men’s Pro League.

Germany’s Marco Miltkau scored the opening two goals and those goals were split by one from Belgium penalty corner ace Alexander Hendrickx. The opening goal came after a Belgian penalty corner counter-attack where Miltkau picked up a long aerial and knocked in his own rebound after the ball bounced off of Vincent Vanasch’s glove. Miltkau was the beneficiary of another quick Germany counter-attack as Niklas Wellen found Christopher Ruhr high up the pitch and Ruhr split the Belgian defence to feed Miltkau for the go-ahead goal.

Hendrickx scored the lone goal in the third quarter after he released his second penalty corner flick of the game to tie the game 2-2. Germany thought they gained the lead again but a penalty corner flick from Grambusch was denied on the line by the fantastic hand-eye coordination of Arthur de Sloover.  

With six minutes to go in the game, Moritz Trompertz weathered a hard stick foul in the Belgian circle by Loick Luypaert and Germany were awarded a penalty stroke. Grambusch buried it low glove side on his club team mate Vanasch to secure the lead and ultimately the victory. Wellen rocketed a shot that was tipped by the glove of Alexander Stadler and rang the bottom of the cross bar.

Player of the Match Niklas Wellen said after the match: “I think for the first game in a couple of months (for Germany) it went really well. We know Belgium is a tough team to beat. I think with the game today we saw that we can beat them and we are on the right path.”

“It was an intense game but we are really happy to be here,” said Belgium’s Felix Denayer. “The organization has done a great job with the set up and it’s great to be here to play these games. Obviously, we wanted to have the win but that will have to be the next time.”

FIH Pro League action continues 5 November in Bhubaneswar as the New Zealand men play Spain, while back in Mendoza the Argentina men and women will host Germany.

FIH Pro League – 4 November 2022

Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneswar (IND)

Result: Men’s Match 4
India 7, New Zealand 4
Player of the Match: Hardik Singh (IND)
Umpires: Coen van Bunge (NED), Michiel Otten (NED), Rawi Anbananthan (MAS-reserve), Ben Goentgen (GER-video)

Estadio Mendocino de Hockey, Mendoza (ARG)

Result: Women’s Match 1
Belgium 3, Germany 3 (SO 4-3)
Player of the Game: Michelle Struijk (BEL)
Umpires: Catalina Montesino (CHI), Rachel Williams (ENG), Federico Garcia (URU-reserve), Bruce Bale (ENG-video)

Result: Men’s Match 5
Belgium 2, Germany 3
Player of the Match: Niklas Wellen (GER)
Umpires: Tyler Klenk (CAN), Bruce Bale (ENG), Catalina Montesino (CHI-reserve), Federico Garcia (URU-video)

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