By The Hockey Paper staff in Amsterdam
The Netherlands staved off the threat of a Belgium side undaunted by playing their first major final to lift the Rabo EuroHockey Championships title in front of a partisan crowd at the Wagener Stadium on Saturday night.
The hosts won their ninth European showpiece title in 13 editions courtesy of a 3-0 victory over Belgium, who are a team on the rise after finishing fifth, fourth and fifth in their last three Championships.
The win – with a new-look side after a raft of Rio retirees – also added gloss to a fine sporting summer for Dutch women’s sport after the Oranje lifted soccer’s Euro 2017 title on home soil three weeks ago.
Margot van Geffen’s 30th minute strike was the difference between the two sides for much of the game, as Belgium threatened to quieten this raucous Wagener Stadium crowd.
Their lead was also a precarious one against such a young talent. But their experience told as they ran Belgium ragged with an array of central midfield runs in the third quarter.
— OranjeHockey 🇳🇱 (@oranjehockey) August 26, 2017
They then made the game safe with 12 minutes left as Kelly Jonker bundled home from close range. With under 60 seconds left and Belgium left with a kicking back, the Dutch won a penalty stroke and Ireen van den Assem netted down the middle.
Earlier, England women claimed the bronze medal over Germany as Alex Danson levelled Jane Sixsmith’s tally of 105 goals.
The England captain netted in the second-half to give the defending champions a crucial advantage after Hannah Martin’s opener.
Danson said: “There is so much pace, so much talent and we have a big squad, it bodes well for the future.
“There was sturdy determination and we didn’t stop running.”