Scotland’s women’s hockey team was defeated in its opening match of the World League Semi-Finals in Brussels by a very impressive world number 1-ranked the Netherlands. The Scots defended very well against the Dutch who in the end managed to find the net four times for a 4-0 win.
It was a fairly even start to the match with the Dutch enjoying most of the possession for the opening five minutes. However, the breakthrough came on seven minutes after a rapid run down the left saw Frederique Matla smack the ball home low at the near post from a tight angle.
As the quarter progressed the Scots were still doing a lot of chasing as the Netherlands calmly passed the ball around, and moving the Scotland defence from side-to-side in the process.
As the end of the first quarter drew closer, Scotland keeper Nicola Cochrane was called into action after a mazy run to the centre edge of the D saw a low shot to the right well saved by the keeper
The second Dutch goal would eventually come courtesy of Laurien Leurink. A quick counter-attack through the middle saw the Scotland defence quickly outnumbered and the ball was laid off to the Dutch number six who had plenty of time to pick her spot and smash home the second.
The second quarter started in much the same style as the first with the Dutch controlling play with fluid passing, and the Scotland working hard doing a lot of chasing.
Trouble loomed when the Scots lost the ball in front of their D but a quick shot was fired wide by the dangerous Matla.
Then five minutes before half time and the Dutch broke down the left and won a penalty corner. It was a moment of real danger for the Scots but the resulting effort was defended well and prompted a Scotland counter attack. The ball was sent diagonally towards the halfway line and was picked up on the right. The counter-attack was ended by a good tackle right on the edge of the Dutch D to prevent a Scottish shot on goal.
Into the second half and the Dutch showed no signs of letting up; their passing and pressure was almost relentless. As soon as the Scots won the ball they were immediately crowded by a high line.
The Netherlands won a penalty corner five minutes into the second half and after the initial shot was chased down, the Dutch worked the ball towards the left of the D to the wide-open Lauren Stam who smacked home low to make it 3-0.
Amy Gibson, who took her place in goal for Scotland since the second quarter, was called to action when she got down low to her right at another penalty corner routine.
Scotland had a venture forward after a great turn on the left Fiona Burnett who then took on the shot on her reverse stick, but it was cleared away by the Dutch Keeper.
In the final quarter Gibson again pulled off a fantastic save from a penalty corner that looked like it had goal written all over it.
The Dutch, however, would make it 4-0 after a long run down the left was cut back across goal to the Kitty Van Male who had a simple tap in seven minutes from time.
Scotland came close to pulling a goal back through a penalty corner three minutes from the end. In a move off the training ground they tried to play it out back to the injector but the pass was batted away by the Dutch defence.
Scotland Women’s coach Gordon Shepherd said, “I’m very happy with the defensive performance. We knew it was going to be a tough game but the girls put a lot of effort into the performance and overall I’m delighted at the strength they showed.”
Images: FIH/Team GB