There were mixed FIH Pro League results for the national teams of Germany on Sunday (28 April) as the women cruised to victory against China before the men were downed by league high-flyers Great Britain in Mönchengladbach.
Germany’s women were produced a fine performance to comfortably beat China 4-1, with Nike Lorenz scoring twice and being named Player of the Match. Germany were beaten when the two sides met in Changzhou last month, but were worthy winners of the home re-match. Die Danas remain fifth in the standings but have boosted their points percentage to 52.38, increasing their chances of reaching that all-important top-four by closing the gap on fourth place Australia, who have 62.96 percent. China remain second from bottom in the standings with 21.21 percent. To see the current women’s FIH Pro League standings, click here.
Whilst it was certainly a good day at the office for Germany’s women, the same could not be said for their male compatriots who were beaten on home soil by a Great Britain side that now sits level with Belgium at the top of the standings. Phil Roper’s solitary strike was enough for Great Britain to boost they points percentage to 80, an impressive statistic for a team that has yet to play a fixture at home. Defeat for Die Honamas leaves them sixth in the standings with 38.1 percent. To see the current men’s FIH Pro League standings, click here.
Germany’s women (FIH World Ranking: 5) were the dominant force in the opening two quarters against China (WR:10) and took a throughly deserved 2-1 advantage into half time. The hosts found themselves behind after just two minutes when poor marking allowed Peng Yang complete freedom in the Germany circle, with the China striker’s backhand strike finding the bottom right corner of Julia Sonntag’s goal. Die Danas turned things around thanks to the penalty corner prowess of Nike Lorenz, who found the target either side of the quarter-time break to put Germany in control. Germany had numerous opportunities to extend their advantage, but another defensive lapse gave China a huge chance to equalise as Zhong Mengling and Zhang Xiaoxue burst through on goal but failed to find the net with only goalkeeper Sonntag to beat.
Germany remained the better team in the third and fourth quarters, eventually establishing a 3-1 lead in the final period when Hannah Granitzki’s clever reverse pass was emphatically converted by Lena Micheel before Charlotte Stapenhorst hit the post with an outrageous chip over China goalkeeper Ye Jiao.
Germany wrapped up the points with seven minutes to play thanks to Rebecca Grotto’s low penalty corner drag-flick, helping Die Danas to both avenge last month’s 2-1 defeat against China in Changzhou and build confidence ahead of the meeting with USA in Mönchengladbach on Tuesday (30 April).
“Our first game against China wasn’t very good, so we really wanted to improve our game against them”, said Player of the Match Nike Lorenz. “It was revenge today. We are really happy we got the win and now we need to recover so we can produce the same intensity on Tuesday night.”
Following Great Britain (WR:7) men’s 5-1 recent away victory over Olympic champions Argentina in Rosario last month, Germany (WR:6) knew they faced a team brimming with confidence, meaning that the sixth-placed hosts would need to put Friday’s 4-2 home defeat against Netherlands quickly to the back of their minds.
There was little to choose between the teams in the opening two periods of the match, with Timur Oruz flashing a shot across the face of the Great Britain goal while Phil Roper’s backhand brought a routine save from Germany goalkeeper Victor Aly. Die Honamas came closest to breaking the deadlock four minutes before half time when Niklas Wellen hit the post from a raking Tom Grambusch pass, but the scores remained locked together at the break.
The winning goal arrived midway through the third period thanks to Phil Roper, who cracked home a backhand strike from the edge of the circle that was only confirmed after consultation with video umpire Irene Presenqui, who indicated that the ball was on the line when the strike was taken and was therefore valid. It was Roper’s sixth goal of the FIH Pro League, just one behind the seven netted by current competition top scorer Pau Quemada of Spain.
Germany were unfortunate not to find an equaliser, with Anton Boeckel becoming the second Germany men’s player to hit the post before Great Britain goalkeeper George Pinner produced two excellent saves from a last minute penalty corner to give the visitors victory.
Reflecting both the result and the grittiness of the performance, Great Britain captain and Player of the Match Adam Dixon said: “I think it is a sign of where we are as a team, although it was maybe not one for the purists today as there weren’t lots of goals and free-flowing hockey. But I think that [if we] can win in this manner, when it gets a bit ugly and have got to do a bit of defending, that is a really good sign and we are stepping in the right direction.” The FIH Pro League continues on Tuesday 30 April when Germany’s women take on the USA in Mönchengladbach. To see the complete match schedule, click here