The first match of the evening saw two well-matched but completely contrasting teams take to the pitch for the second round of matches in Pool C.
Germany had beaten South Africa by a convincing 4-1 scoreline in the opening match of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup, while Argentina had completed an even more comprehensive demolition of Spain when they racked up six goals and conceded just two.
Despite the Argentina team’s reputation for starting quickly, it was Germany who took
the lead in the fifth minute when Hannah Gablac slotted home for her first goal of the World Cup. She picked up the ball with her back to goal, twirled and slotted home past Belen Succi in the Argentina goal.
For the next few minutes it was all Germany as they won a series of penalty corners. To their collective disappointment they failed to capitalise on these and were made to pay in the 14th minute when Florenica Habif turned some intense Argentine pressure into an equalising goal.
Germany re-took the lead four minutes into the second quarter when Charlotte Stapenhorst was on hand to slap home the ball after some tricky stick skills from Elisa Grave. The 21 year-old showed great composure to hold possession as she manoeuvred past the Argentina sticks and Stapenhorst’s shot was enough to change the direction of attack and flummox Succi.
The third goal was a belter of a shot from Stapenhorst. The striker, who has clearly hit form at just the right time, took the ball wide into the Argentina circle and then, ignoring the Argentina defender who was shadowing her, unleashed a shot that flew into the goal at head height.
Argentina nearly pulled one back as Noel Barrionuevo sent a shot past Julia Ciupka’s goal but the speed of the German counter was astounding and the 2014 bronze medallists came perilously close to conceding a fourth.
The ebb and flow nature of the game meant that no sooner had Argentina withstood that attack than they were creating their own chances. Maria Ortiz was in the perfect position to reduce the deficit to one goal as she slipped the ball past Ciupka.
If Ciupka was annoyed at letting that goal in, she more than redeemed herself with the point blank range save she made at the start of the second half. The ball was struck with ferocity by Julieta Jankunas but Ciupka reacted quickly to palm the ball to safety.
The remainder of the game may have remained scoreless but it was full of excitement and drama as Argentina sought a third goal and Germany used every ounce of their experience to hold onto the narrow lead.
“I think that was a great game of hockey tonight,” was German captain Janne Muller-Wieland’s verdict on the game.
“It was so exciting to play in front of that crowd and I think the British really appreciate a good sporting spectacle.”
Talking about her own team’s performance, she said that the team had worked hard to control the tempo of the game and one of the things that was adding to the German team’s performance was the well balanced composition of the squad, where some speedy young players are lending well with the experienced core of Die Danas.