After two weeks of intense competition, it is the final that so many hockey fans have been looking to with keen anticipation. Netherlands overcame a strong and impressive challenge from Australia, while Argentina and Germany couldn't be separated in one of the most entertaining matches of recent times. It took the cruel ending of a shoot-out to send Las Leonas to a date with Oranje at the Estadio Olimpic de Terrassa on Sunday 17 July.
Netherlands are seeking an impressive ninth title, while two-time champions Argentina will look to win the trophy for the first time since 2010. If the two semi-finals were anything to go by, the final should be an amazing showcase for the sport. Australia and Germany, who both deserve plaudits for their performances in the semi-finals, will be battling for a bronze medal.
Netherlands vs Australia (Semi-final)
It was all even at the end of the first 15 minutes of the semi-final between Netherlands and Australia, although much of the action had taken place at the Australia defensive end of the pitch. While Anne Veenendaal was largely a spectator, she might have been surprised to see some of her team mates failing to show their usual high levels of performance, with passes going off target and some poor decisions being made. Towards the end of the opening quarter the Netherlands began to play their flowing game but Australia's harrying style was disrupting their play.
The second quarter began with a beautiful interchange between Eva de Goede, Pien Sanders and Lidewij Welten. This might have acted as a warning to the Hockeyroos but they had ambitions of their own and Rosie Malone caused Veenendaal to react when she unleashed a shot high at the Dutch goal.
The Australia defence, particularly Stephanie Kershaw and Karri Somerville, were putting in a shift as they stepped up on the Dutch attack and forced some unusual errors from the Dutch attacking force.
The first penalty corner was won by the Netherlands in the 28th minute. The shot from Laurien Leurink was saved by Renee Taylor on the post and cleared to safety.
The second half started with a second penalty corner for the Netherlands. It was won by Lidewij Welten, who had emerged from the break with a hugely determined look. Frederique Matla's shot was chased down but a re-award was given after it struck a foot. Jocelyn Bartram made a tremendous save to keep the scores level.
Another penalty corner was won after Taylor was unfortunate to step on the ball. This time Kaitlin Nobbs stopped the shot but gave away another penalty corner in the process. The pressure on Australia was really ramping up but the Hockeyroos were holding firm.
The following four minutes saw relentless pressure from the top of the circle as Australia repelled penalty corner after penalty corner. Australia finally broke free with Amy Lawton sprinting up the pitch with the ball. Her cross towards Malone was cut out by the ever-calm de Goede.
After somehow withstanding the pressure, ustralia won their first penalty corner in the 38th minute. Penny Squibb's shot was deflected over the cross bar by the Dutch first runner, Maria Verschoor.
A super solo run by Welten in the 42nd minute led to the Netherlands' 11th penalty corner attempt. Harriet Shand was the defender who prevented Welten from unleashing a shot, but Frederique Matla made no mistake from the top of the D as she sent the ball flying past Bartram into the right hand corner of her goal.
A lovely interchange between Felice Albers and Maria Verschoor nearly put the game completely beyond Australia's reach in the 55th minute but the final shot fizzed past the post.
A final chance for Australia came in the 59th minute as Australia won their second penalty corner. But this was the Netherlands in close-out mood and the threat was averted. Australia threatened to the final moment but the sole goal from Matla sealed the Netherlands' passage to the final.
Player of the Match Felice Albers (NED) said: 'It was a tough game but now we are looking forward to the final. It has been tough to come from Amsterdam to Terrassa but we have settled well. We are going to watch the other game now but we don't mind if it is Argentina or Germany.'
Australia's captain Jane Claxton said: 'Holland are number one for a reason. We are a young side but we played really well and should be proud of our performance. Now we have a chance to get ready for tomorow. Any medal match is another opportunity to grow again. A medal is a medal whatever colour it is.'
Argentina vs Germany (Semi-final)
It was just 23 seconds into the game when Germany took the lead, scoring from their first penalty corner as Die Danas set off at a blistering pace. The passionate pre-match team talk from Anne Schroeder had fired the team up and Sonja Zimmermann placed the shot perfectly for Hanna Granitzki to deflect past Belen Succi in the Argentina goal.
Argentina raced up the pitch instantly but the resulting shot from the counter attack saw Victoria Granatto just miss the goal. However, seconds later, Granatto was at it again and her skill won Las Leonas their first penalty corner. Cecile Pieper ran out bravely to block Agustina Gorzelany's shot.
The quarter continued at a frenetic pace with Selin Oruz for Germany showing superb 3D skills as she lifted the ball and shot straight into Succi. At the other end, Delfina Thome showed mesmerising skill to get round the defence but her shot was saved by Julia Sonntag.
The quarter which began so dramtically ended in equally dramatic fashion. Argentina referred a decision and were awarded a penalty corner, which Agustina Gorzelany converted to take her to the top of the goalscoring table with seven goals in total throughout the tournament.
The second quarter showed no sign of being any less entertaining and it was largely Germany showing the creativity. First Anne Schroeder vollied a ball into the goal but it was disallowed. Then Charlotte Stapenhorst showed incredible awareness as she tried to lift the ball over Succi. That attempt just crept over the cross bar. Jette Fleschutz tried to get in on the action but her shot also flew high.
The next goal came from the quick thinking of Sofia Toccalino. Germany had switched off after a foul and Toccalino ran the ball into the circle and flung it goalwards. In true forwards' style Agustina Albertarrio claimed the final touch.
The second half began with Argentina looking more in control. Some of the creativity had seeped from the German attack, although the German defence was looking really focused and was coping really well with all that Argentina threw their way.
The game swung again at the end of the third quarter when a marvellous finish from Charlotte Stapenhorst brought Germany level. Germany had enjoyed some sustained pressure and when Anne Schroeder entered the circle and shot at goal, it was Stapenhorst who reacted first to pick the ball from midair and send it over Succi.
As the time counted down, a fantastic reaction save by Sonntag prevented Thome from reclaiming the lead as Argentina pushed for another goal.
With three minutes left Germany lost Jette Fleschutz to a green card meaning they played most of the remainder of the game with one less player. This was real back to the wall defence for Die Danas as Argentina knocked again and again at Sonntag's goal.
After four pulsating quarters of hockey, nothing could separate the two teams and the match went to a shoot-out.
For Germany Nathalie Kubalski came into the goal to replace Sonntag for the shoot-out. As she saved the first attempt, by Julieta Jankunas, it looked a good decision. However, the Argentina players held their nerve and
The Player of the Match was Argentina's Sofia Toccalino.
The final day of FIH Women's World Cup action takes place on Sunday 17 July in the Estadio Olimpic de Terrassa.. The first match sees Australia and Germany competing for third place, with the action starting at 18:30. That match will be followed by the encounter to decide the World Cup winners as reigning champions Netherlands take on Argentina at 21:30. All times are CEST.
FIH Hockey Women's World Cup Spain & Netherlands 2022
To view the match schedule click here.
16 July 2022 Results
All matches played at the Estadio Olimpic de Terrassa (ESP)
Netherlands 1, Australia 0
Player of the Match: Felice Albers (NED)
Umpires: Laurine Delforge (BEL), Sarah Wilson (SCO) Michelle Meister (GER - video)
Argentina 2, Germany 2 (Argentina win 4-2)
Player of the Match:Sofia Toccalino (ARG)
Umpires: Amber Church (NZL), Aleisha Neumann (AUS) Kelly Hudson (NZL - video)