SCHC earned a 1-0 win on Thursday-evening against the reigning Dutch champions Den Bosch. One goal from SCHC in the middle of the fourth quarter was enough to break down the Bosch Wall, in the semi-finals of the play-offs.
Eleven minutes before time, Bilthoven exploded, when the opening goal hung in the air for minutes, a delayed penalty corner by Caia van Maasakker and a missed opportunity by Miloe Jaeger. It was Kyra Fortuin who found the net, after a cross from the left from a defeated penalty corner by Van Maasakker. A goal that meant Den Bosch lose the first semifinal, something that was almost impossible four days ago.
SCHC was fiercer, stronger and better than last Sunday
Anyone who follows women’s hockey could have thought after SCHC’s whitewashing by Den Bosch last Sunday that the semi-final had already been decided without a minute being played. 1-4, they were hard numbers. The results of the last four years did not improve the scenario, for SCHC anyway. The Bilthovenians never once won from Den Bosch. The last victory of SCHC over their anxiety partner dates from March 29, 2015. The belief that SCHC was going to do it might not have been very strong among the neutral hockey enthusiast, as far as it naturally exists.
But from the start of the game, another SCHC had arrived to that whom played on Sunday. A fiercer, stronger, better SCHC than last weekend, that fought for every meter, they hungrily hunted for a goal and a pole postion towards the final place, but that the wall of the defensive, countering Den Bosch didn’t just get knocked down.
Chance for Miloe Jaeger at 1-0
It took until the 47th minute for SCHC to finally get that one big chance it was waiting for. Miloe Jaeger was completely free when she got the ball knocked out of the air by Laurien Leurink. But under pressure from the onrushing keeper Josine Koning, Jaeger pushed the ball wide. It should have been the reward for SCHC’s zest for attack and the well-deserved lead. Four minutes later, goalkeeper Maddie Hinch dived beautifully for a drag push from Frédérique Matla, who could just as well have found the opening goal.
The foot of Hinch also saved in the second minute on the low dragflick of Frédérique Matla. Afterwards, Stichtsche fought passionately against Den Bosch, which seemed to have a lesser day and without the injured Marloes Keetels (she is expected to participate on Saturday). Ginella Zerbo led the defensive line from the front. Frédérique Derkx kept Lieke Hulsen from shooting. Anna de Geus won a fight against Ireen van den Assem in the center line.
SCHC surviving the last minutes
Zerbo could have created the greatest opportunity of the first half with her back to the goal, but turned too far out, forcing her to take a too difficult corner. Halfway through the second quarter Van den Assem had to remove a ball from the line, after a good action by Famke Richardson. 0 – 0 was the halftime score, after Lidewij Welten dribbling on the back line created the greatest danger for Den Bosch.
SCHC ruled half of Den Bosch after the break. Shoot-outs never seemed to be real. When Fortuin’s goal was dropped in the middle of the fourth quarter, Den Bosch had to come. It was survival for SCHC, which defended the lead with hand and tooth.
Ireen van den Assem dragged a penalty corner towards the goal of Hinch. Two minutes before time, Frédérique Matla did the same, but the three-time World Goalkeeper of the Year saved excellent. Returning to England, Hinch was an important weapon of SCHC, which gave her team the deserved victory in the final phase. But in Bilthoven, they knew better than anyone after the last whistle: they have nothing at all.