Sunday, December 3, 2023

Dutch hockey: David Harte helps SV Kampong to first title in 32 years


David Harte became the first Irishman to lift the Dutch Hoofdklasse title as he played a key role in SV Kampong’s season-ending league victories.

SV Kampong won the Dutch title for the first time in 32 years as they won a shoot-out for the second time in four days against Rotterdam to spark massive celebrations in Utrecht.

It took just 16 seconds for Bjorn Kellerman to continue his brilliant run of form to score the opening goal for 1-0. Seve van Ass levelled with a tip in from Blair Tarrant’s cross and they had the chance to go ahead but Jeroen Hertzberger saw his penalty stroke brilliantly denied by Harte.

Constantijn Jonker’s close range finish restored the lead before Hertzberger scored to make it 2-2 and send the tie to a shoot-out once again.

There, Harte kept out Jochem Bakker and then stayed in control of a shoot-out from Harry Martin, forcing him to shoot wide to see Kampong win out 4-3, giving them a second win in their best of three final.

Harte was mobbed by his team mates after that shoot-out, something he told was “an explosion of emotion”.

He said: “I’ve been with Kampong five years, coming close many times. Now it’s finally here, it’s just so emotional.”

As for his final save, his method was rudimentary: “I had at that time no special thoughts. Simply: stop the ball!”

It closed out a rollercoaster end to the season. Kampong were on the brink of elimination before a last minute goal in their last game of the regular season against Oranje-Rood saved their place in the playoffs.

They then came from behind in their semi-final against Bloemendaal and in the first leg against Rotterdam.

“This was a Houdini act. We escaped a few times but I always had confidence.”

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