EHL: Van der Elst and Amsterdam look to summon spirit of 2022

Champions in 2022, AH&BC Amsterdam will look to capture that winning EHL vibe this weekend in front of their home crowd at the Wagener Stadium.

On paper, though, the parallels between the two seasons are far from comparable. They reached Easter two years ago amid a turbulent injury crisis, calling on a series of teenagers to cut their teeth on this stage.

Expectations were tempered but, through it, they forged a unique outlook to ultimately work their way through the draw, edging out Club de Campo in a shoot-out and then came from a goal down to beat Junior FC. They eventually overcame adversity to defeat a formidable Den Bosch in a shoot out, doing so with six teenagers in the side.

This time around, star striker Fay van der Elst says things are far more serene as they look forward to their Friday night lights against East Grinstead to kickstart their tournament.

“It’s smoother in the sense we have more high quality players around and we can prepare ourselves the right way to be able to perform at the highest level,” she said.

“[Two years ago], we had so many injuries like we have never experienced before. We felt we were hanging in there every game that season.

“I don’t think anyone counted on us winning and we knew it would be tough every game. In other years, you know some games you will be very dominant. That was absolutely not the case, especially in the EHL.

“We got into survival mode where we knew we had to fight to stay in the game and then anything could happen; everything fell in the right place in that final.”

This time around, the challenge is making sure the quality gels in tandem at the right time. Van der Elst is in the form of her life, breaking into the international team over the winter stop and scoring five times in her first eight caps.

Around her, Michelle Fillet’s poaching instincts and corner power, the artistry of Marijn Veen, the direct approach from Freeke Moes and Felice Albers slaloming runs down the right give them so many points of attack.

And who better to put together all those elements than attacking wizard Teun de Nooijer in his first season as AH&BC coach. Van der Elst adds that a focus on her own finishing skills have paid dividends.

On the challenge of East Grinstead, it will be a first meeting between the sides: “We will look into them but the focus is mainly on ourselves and we do believe if we play to our abilities, we should be able to get the win over them.

“And it is going to be special to play the EHL once more in our own stadium; I even heard it’s going to be sunny, so I’m hoping for a lot of support!”

By EHL Hockey TV

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