Hockey: Fluent Dutch get it right to beat Australia 2-0

The Netherlands' winning margin would have been larger if not for Australian goalkeeper Ashlee Wells' fine display. She denied the Dutch from close range on several occasions, like in this goal-mouth melee.
The Netherlands' winning margin would have been larger if not for Australian goalkeeper Ashlee Wells' fine display. She denied the Dutch from close range on several occasions, like in this goal-mouth melee.ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

A goal-less draw the day before sparked the Netherlands to a 2-0 win over Australia in their much-anticipated clash at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium last night.

The women's world and Olympic hockey champions, held by world No. 8 Germany in their The Project Group International Tri-Series opener on Tuesday, made sure there was no repeat against the world No. 3 Hockeyroos.

Watched by a crowd of about 450, the world's top-ranked nation came out swinging from the start, with their pressing game yielding the first victory for any team in the six-game triangular, which started on Monday.

They dominated possession throughout the 60-minute affair with their strong defence, not allowing the Hockeyroos to break through their attacking half for most of the match.

They used their speed coupled with their accurate passing abilities to create chances, resulting in five penalty corners to Australia's one.

The first goal came courtesy of Maria Verschoor, who scored in the 13th minute while Roos Drost scored the second goal in the 28th.

Said Dutch player Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel: "We were a little bummed about the draw against Germany because we had a lot of scoring opportunities but didn't capitalise on them, so we wanted to come here today to win it and score some goals."

Added goal-scorer Verschoor: "We were more connected with each other than yesterday and we passed more, which I thought made the difference for us today."

However, van den Heuvel believed they could have done even better, saying: "We had a lot of corners and we should have scored more."

The Australians, for their part, also admitted that their performance was far from satisfactory.

In fact, they would have conceded more goals if not for the sharp reflexes of goalkeeper Ashlee Wells, who denied the Dutch from close range on several occasions.

Said Hockeyroo Ashleigh Nelson: "Ashlee did really well. She made a lot of saves especially from close fire so she should be happy with her performance."

Wells' performance was one of the few bright spots for the Hockeyroos. Their head coach Adam Commens lamented: "Tonight, we didn't do as well as we could and we should be disappointed with our performance.

"Our ability to stay in the contest when we were down and defend well was also poor. I hope to improve that throughout the week and improve with every game."

Australia play Germany today at the same venue at 7pm. The two sides played out a 1-1 draw on Monday. Entry is free.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2016, with the headline 'Fluent Dutch get it right to beat Australia 2-0'. Print Edition | Subscribe