LONDON, August 8 – Defending champions the Netherlands had to come back twice before and win a shootout a to claim an Olympic Games final place at the expense of New Zealand.
After a 2-2 draw in normal time and a goal-less 15 minutes of golden goal extra time, the Olympic Games had a first airing for the start-from-the-25, 8-seconds-to-score shootout format. The Dutch held their nerve with Ellen Hoog netting the decisive goal.
The match started with an enterprising an fast New Zealand side took the lead through a Kayla Sharland slapped corner after seven minutes. The Dutch sqandered several first half chances through poor shooting but eventually levelled it with Maartje Paumen’s first PC of the tournament. The Dutch captain produced a strong flicked shot on a one-two to the right variation.
In the 49th minute the Blacksticks women retook the lead when Krystal Forgesson produced a calm slapped finish after an incisive midfiield break found her unmarked in the circle. The Dutch pushed hard and levelled again with a Paumen corner into the roof of the net (53 minutes).
Both sides wasted chances to stop the game goint to extra time – New Zealand failed to convert four second-half corners and the Dutch peppered the New Zealand circle in the last five minutes.
During golden goal period Gemma Flynn was yellow carded for a taking a ball above the shoulder and the Dutch appealed their own corner asking for a stroke – that was denied and Paumen put the drag-flick wide.
In the shootout in an Olympic Games, Naomi van As set the Dutch on their way. Joyce Sombroek saved from Sharland then Bianca Russell kept out Paumen to make it 1-1. Eva de Goede roofed a shot from the top of the circle and Flynn’s attempt was saved. Margot van Geffen produced another save from Russell but Sombroek did likewise to Punt. Hoog then hit a backhand drive home to finish it 3-1 to the Dutch.
Netherlands coach Max Caldas was happy with making it to the gold medal game but not with the performance.
“We chose to climb a mountain , but we chose to climb it the wrong way. We chose the most difficult way rather than the shortest route,” he said.
New Zealand’s Mark Hager was also disappointed.
“I feel we took it to the Dutch. Hopefully we have earned some respect today from one of the top teams in the world.
“But this only comes around once every four years and I felt we had the opportunity to go through to the gold medal match. Unfortunately we failed to put a third goal in, ” said the 48-year-old who won a gold medal with Australia in the 1986 world cup in London.
He added that his squad hadn’t “prepared enough” for the relatively new shootout format.
Paumen is now level with Alyson Annan’s all-time Olympic goal-scoring record of 13.