Waterloo Ducks win historic first EHL crown for Belgian clubs

Euro Hockey League – KO16/FINAL4, HC Oranje-Rood, Eindhoven, April 22 2019

Waterloo Ducks became the first ever EHL winner from Belgium as they defended hard before striking late in the game to beat Rot-Weiss Koln in the GRAND FINAL. Earlier, Mannheimer HC won their first ever EHL medal with a 3-1 BRONZE MATCH success against Real Club de Polo

Waterloo Ducks 4 (W Ghislain, G Boccard, M Bertrand, Q van Lierde) Rot Weiss Koln 0

Waterloo Ducks became the first Belgian club to win the Euro Hockey League as they put in a monumental defensive performance to beat 2017 champions Rot Weiss Koln to the crown.

Second half goals from ABN AMRO Talent of the EHL William Ghislain, Gauthier Boccard, Max Bertrand and Quentin van Lierde saw them home but it owed a massive amount to Vincent Vanasch’s brilliance as the goalkeeper became one of a rare breed to win the EHL with two different clubs.

Three of those goals came in the last two minutes when Rot Weiss swapped out their goalkeeper while the Ducks were on the back foot for most of the match before their late volley of goals.

Final: Waterloo Ducks HC - Rot-Weiss Köln
EINDHOVEN – Euro Hockey League 2018/2019 Final: Waterloo Ducks HC – Rot-Weiss Köln Waterloo Ducks win the EHL. Photo: Pieter van Straaten. COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS

Captain John-John Dohmen said his side finally managed to put together the perfect run at the seventh attempt having only once reached the KO8 before this week.

“We had never done a good campaign in the EHL,” he said. “It’s the first time we have shown our real level. Of course, we had to defend a lot because Rot Weiss were really good but that was part of the strategy, to defend hard with courage, and we showed a lot of character.

It was lively right from the beginning as defender Kai Aichinger tore forward in the first phases to cause trouble while Pieter van Straaten and Renaud Pangrazio were buzzing up front for the Ducks.

Vincent Vanasch made two outstanding saves with Jonas Gomoll testing the world goalkeeper of the year’s mettle.

He was again brilliant early in the second half when Marco Miltkau’s under the arm pass was just chipped up at close quarters but Vanasch raised an arm to palm it away.

Rot-Weiss had a goal disallowed when Eric Knobling’s shinpad deflected into the goal from Johannes Grosse’s upright reverse-stick cross. The video umpire came to their rescue that time.

Then, against the run of play, Waterloo used their first real chance of note to set William Ghislain free on the right of the circle and he pumped the ball under Victor Aly for his second goal in two days.

Waterloo began to fall into foul trouble with a series of green cards forcing them deeper and deeper in defence. Mats Grambusch was denied by the post and then smashed a volley into Vanasch’s pads from another big chance.

The Ducks survived with nine men for a spell and then, as Rot Weiss took off Aly in favour of an extra attacker, Waterloo pounded. Pangrazio won a corner with less than three minutes to go and Gauthier Boccard showed no mercy to the unpadded masses to make it 2-0.

Bertrand then profited from more Ghislain brilliance when he laid off the ball into the circle for the striker to add an extra golden moment.

And there was even time left for van Lierde to score a fourth with one second left on the clock for an emphatic looking 4-0 scoreline.

Final: Waterloo Ducks HC - Rot-Weiss Köln
EINDHOVEN – Euro Hockey League 2018/2019 Final: Waterloo Ducks HC – Rot-Weiss Köln Waterloo Ducks win the EHL. Photo: COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS

BRONZE MATCH: Mannheimer HC 3 Real Club de Polo 1
Gonzalo Peillat’s penalty corner double powered Mannheimer HC to their first ever EHL medal as they took bronze with a strong second half performance to deny Real Club de Polo their first ever place on the podium.

“The feeling is perfect, the side made a really good effort for the whole week and I am really proud of the way they gave everything,” Peillat said afterwards.

“Playing three days in a row is something we are not used to do at a high performance level. Both teams were pretty tired so we tried to play on the counter and maybe nick a corner from that perspective.”

Indeed, in terms of his many goals before, Peillat said the one to make it 1-0 was one to remember.

“The first one was a little bit special. We had planned it but maybe not quite so close to the corner – that was a little surprise to even me! It means a lot for us to get this medal, for us to keep growing as a club and to play every year in the EHL will keep us growing.”

The first half was cagey as both sides looked to suss each other out at the end of a long tournament in the Eindhoven heat. Polo won the only corner of the half but could not make it count while Mannheim – with Danny Nguyen to the fore – started to apply the pressure as time went on.

Peillat’s powerful pass was just tipped wide by Tino Nguyen while Teo Hinrichs’ ball went through the circle without a touch, leaving it scoreless at half-time.

The German side continued that momentum into the second half and won a couple of corners, the first of which Mario Fernandez saved. The second one, however, was planted into the top corner by Peillat in the 33rd minute for a crucial lead.

They looked reasonably in control of that narrow lead for much of the third quarter though they did require Lukas Stumpf to get down low to deny Pablo de Abadal when a bouncing cross beat the first two blockers.

And, despite going down to 10 players, Polo fought back to get level with 10 minutes to go when Roc Oliva found a lovely line of pass into the circle and Lucas Baron scored his second goal in two days for 1-1.

The lead lasted just one minute, however, with Peillat rifling home another drag-flick and Timm Haase got the killer blow with five minutes to go when he lifted a chance on the run over Fernandez for the 3-1 lead.

For goalkeeper Lukas Stumpf, he was one of the shortlisted players for the ABN AMRO Talent of the EHL and he was delighted to play his part in the success.

“Yesterday was disappointing for the group but today we showed a strong performance, showed good structure and with the best drag-flicker in the world, it made the difference today. We are so happy to be the third best team in Europe.

“It was hard to come back but we wanted to finish our EHL season with a medal. We are very proud to be the first Mannheimer HC to win this kind of medal but our goal now is to be the EHL champion maybe next year.”

Images: WorldSportPics|Frank Uijlenbroek

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