Germany women got off to a cracking start against Belgium as Player of the Match Charlotte Stapenhorst proved yet again why she is regarded as one of the best strikers in the world. First she latched onto a ball that had been played into the circle, deflecting it into the goal. This was followed with a piece of audacious skill: Stapenhorst bounced the ball on her stick as she ran past the despairing Belgium defenders and then coolly flicked the ball past Aisling D’Hooghe in the Belgium goal.
The intense German pressure continued in the second quarter. Nike Lorenz sent in a fierce penalty corner shot, which D’Hooghe saved but failed to clear. The Belgium keeper then showed her superb athleticism to bounce up and deny Elisa Grave the rebound.
The third quarter saw Belgium coming back into the game. The Red Panthers were now enjoying far more possession, with Ambre Ballenghien and Sophie-Anne Weyns both looking much sharper as they ran at the German defence. However, that progress was halted in its tracks as an overturned ball led to a penalty corner. Rebecca Grote made no mistake as she tucked the ball home to give her team a 3-0 lead.
A last moment of brilliance came from Stapenhorst as she once again bobbled the ball on her stick, showing her amazing 3D skills. With the ball mid-air, she struck it sweetly and it flew goal bound to give Stapenhorst her third goal.
Emilie Sinia nearly scored a consolation goal but Julia Sonntag pulled off a fabulous save to keep a clean sheet.
The result gives Germany their sixth win in the FIH Pro League, bringing them to within one point of Belgium in the table.
“We scored early and that makes for a good feeling,” said Stapenhorst. “We defended really well. We learnt a lot from the Argentina game where we conceded late in the game. We have some travelling now – against Netherlands and Great Britain – and we will take all we are learning with us. This was a great team win.”
Barbara Nelen, captain of Belgium was generous in her assessment: “Germany played a really good game and we were a bit off today. We found ourselves chasing the ball. We must be smarter in our press. But today, we have to acknowledge that Germany played a very good game.”