“These games come down to a battle rather than a nice hockey game.” So said Alan Forsyth as Old Georgians made their first Euro Hockey League finale.
Old Georgians earned a place in the EHL Final8 for the first time in their short history as an English top flight team, as they won a heated battle against Waterloo Ducks 3-2 in Barcelona.
Old Georgians twice came from behind, with Chris Proctor’s 49th-minute deflection proving the difference after a rollercoaster contest.
OGs had the better of the first quarter, dominating possession and territory against a packed WatDucks defence with Sam Ward having the best of the openings well saved by Simon Vandenbroucke.
Waterloo, meanwhile, were working on the counter and they got a corner in the 22nd minute which Victor Charlet ripped into the bottom corner.
Ward equalised four minutes later when he got an amazing touch behind his back to James Albery’s thunderous cross from the right wing.
The flow of play switched in the second half with Waterloo adopting a more attacking mindset and it paid dividends when they won another couple of corners, the second of which Charlet slung home for 2-1.
The lead was short-lived, though, with Old Georgians winning a stroke which Alan Forsyth stepped up to flick into the net, his second of the weekend.
Ashley Jackson brilliantly got back to prevent Waterloo getting a third, chasing back to deny Gaetan Dykmans with a diving block off the line. It came while the Ducks were down to nine players – William Ghislain was already in the sin-bin and then captain Charlet followed in bizarre circumstances.
Goalkeeper Vandenbroucke was delayed returning to the field after the Q3 break and then was deemed to have run onto the field at the incorrect point, resulting in the card for the team.
OGs then got the crucial goal with 11 minutes to go when Jackson fed the ball at pace into the circle where Proctor got the perfect touch to guide it up into the roof of the net.
Waterloo piled forward in the closing stages but could not convert from a corner.
“When we’re training in November early January and February when it’s a bit cold it will give us a little bit of something extra to think about come April,” said Forsyth.
Guillermo Fortuño’s first minute goal and super defensive effort saw Real Club de Polo earn their place in the EHL Men FINAL8 next Easter as they defeated Holcombe 1-0.
Polo burst out of the blocks to score after just 28 seconds with Fortuño cleaning up a rebound off Ollie Payne’s pads from the game’s first attack as the Spanish side made the Final8 for the first time since 2019.
Royal Léopold eventually saw off the challenge of Post SV 3-1 to reach the FINAL8 of the Euro Hockey League.
SV Kampong backed up their Saturday win over Bloemendaal with a blitz over Scotland’s Western Wildcats to take up the last EHL FINAL8 ticket on offer from Barcelona.
Kampong scored an incredible seven goals in Q4 to blow away a spirited Western side and win 11-0 in the final match of the weekend.
Pinoké, Rot-Weiss Köln, Gantoise and Club de Campo de Madrid have already qualified for the 2024 finals.