Hockey: Welten sparkles but Dutch hit German wall at Sengkang Stadium

Dutch forward Lidewij Welten's shot being saved by Gemany's goalkeeper Yvonne Frank, who had an outstanding match.
Dutch forward Lidewij Welten's shot being saved by Gemany's goalkeeper Yvonne Frank, who had an outstanding match.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

World and Olympic champions the Netherlands graced the Sengkang Stadium hockey pitch last night.

Unfortunately, all they could manage against Germany, the world's eighth-ranked women's team, was a 0-0 draw at The Project Group International Tri-Series tournament.

Fortunately, while the match ended goalless, it was not exactly bereft of entertainment.

One player who caught the attention of the 450-strong crowd was Dutch forward Lidewij Welten.

The 25-year-old displayed good positioning and explosive pace, and created the best chance of the game late in the fourth quarter when she set up team-mate Kitty van Male, whose shot was brilliantly saved by Germany's goalkeeper Yvonne Frank.

However, her coach Alyson Annan felt she could have done a lot better. Annan said: "She looked a bit tired, I don't think she performed as well as she has in the previous matches (friendlies against South Korea and Australia)."

Welten, a nominee for the International Hockey Federation Player of the Year award, rued how her team could not breach Germany's defence. She said: "We should have scored today, I reckon."

But she felt that her team had played positively, saying: "We didn't give away a lot, we had a lot of forward speed. We're making steps, that's what we're here for and we did that well."

Welten started playing hockey when she was six years old, influenced by her siblings who also play the sport. At 13, she ventured into elite hockey with Dutch club HOD Valkenswaard, before stepping up to the national team at 17.

Currently a full-time player with HC Den Bosch, she has been an integral cog in the Oranje machine, winning Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012 as well as the 2014 World Cup.

She also demonstrated her grit during the World Cup, where she played the entire tournament with a broken hand.

Another player who stood out in last night's game, where the Dutch dominated possession and carved out multiple chances, was German goalkeeper Frank, who made 10 saves, including a one-on-one effort from Welten.

But Frank remained modest, saying: "We had a good defence, and we worked very hard in a tough match. I don't look at my own game... I just did my job."

The Netherlands play world No. 3 Australia in the six-match series' most-anticipated clash today. The match, at Sengkang Stadium, begins at 7pm. Entry is free.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2016, with the headline 'Welten sparkles but Dutch hit German wall'. Print Edition | Subscribe