Saturday 2 February 2019 | The Kookaburras blew a three-goal lead to lose 4-1 in a shootout after a thrilling 5-5 draw against the world number three Netherlands on Saturday in Melbourne.
Entering the fourth quarter the Kookaburras found themselves with a comfortable 5-2 lead thanks to goals from Tom Craig, Tim Brand, Eddie Ockenden, Trent Mitton and Lachlan Sharp.
Unfortunately for the Australians, a late collapse saw the Netherlands score three goals in quick succession, forcing the shootout.
The Dutch goalkeeper Sam van der Ven allowed just one goal to Jeremy Hayward after forcing errors from Blake Govers and Craig. Jeroen Hertzberger, Glenn Schuurman, Jonas de Geus and Netherlands captain Billy Bakker were all able to convert their shootout opportunities.
Though the Kookaburras were efficient in front of goals during regular time, they were unable to find the back of the net consistently when it mattered most.
“We didn’t handle the Dutch pressure. They turned us over way too many times, we had trouble coming out of defence and transferring the ball and that was a quality we had in the first and second quarter,” said Kookaburras coach Colin Batch.
“Full credit to them coming back but it’s very disappointing for our boys.”
Despite the loss, Australia will be buoyed by an efficient first half as they look ahead to Sunday’s clash against world number one, Belgium.
Australia struck first in the third minute of the match. Craig found a sliver of space in front of goal and was able to find the backboard with a powerful shot through traffic.
Only seconds later it was the Netherlands turn to score. Their first goal came through a Mirco Pruijser reverse stick off of an Australian turnover in the fourth minute.
Some early heroics from goalkeeper Andrew Charter saw him defend multiple Dutch penalty corner attempts to keep the score level.
Brand was the next to hit the scoreboard, finding the gap off a deflection in the 13th minute.
Moments later Kookaburras captain Ockenden got on the end of a Blake Govers assist for Australia’s third goal of the match.
In the 21st minute of the match Sharp showed his passing ability, finding Mitton in the attacking circle for another field goal.
Hertzberger changed the match’s momentum when he found a hole in Australia’s defence late in the first half.
The play of the game came from a fantastic piece of teamwork resulting in an Australian goal in the 35th minute. Hayward found Brand with a long ball out of defence which allowed Brand to find Sharp at the top of the D, when his powerful shot put left Australia with a three goal lead.
Over a nine minute stretch late in the fourth term, three consecutive goals to de Gues, Bakker and Kellerman forced the match into shootouts and ultimately a Netherlands victory.
The Kookaburras take on Belgium in their second FIH Pro League match from 3pm AEDT on Sunday at the State Netball Hockey Centre Melbourne.
Australia 5 (Craig 3′, Brand 13′, Ockenden 17′, Mitton 23′, Sharp 35′)
Netherlands 5 (Pruijser 4′, Hertzberger 29′, de Geus 47′, Bakker 51′, Kellerman 56′)