Belfius EuroHockey Championship
Women’s Pool B: Ireland 1 (S Hawkshaw) Germany 1 (P Maertens)
Germany got the point they needed to claim second place from women’s Pool B, denying Ireland a first ever semi spot following another dramatic battle.
All the goals came in the first quarter with Sarah Hawkshaw cancelling out a Pia Maertens goal but it was nowhere near the end of the action. Ireland threw everything forward in search of a winner but they rode their luck, too, with Germany missing a penalty stroke and seeing a goal disallowed. In the end, die Danas got the result that mattered.
The equation before the game saw Germany needing a draw or better while Ireland could only go through with a victory. And it was the Germans who strengthened their position in an impressive opening phase, capped by Pia Maertens’ awesome run and strike for 1-0, firing high into the net at high velocity.
But for big interventions from Ali Meeke and Roisin Upton, Germany could have had even more joy while Ayeisha McFerran kept out a couple of corners.
From Ireland’s first corner, they equalised – a real melee in front of the goal with Katie Mullan and Hawkshaw digging out the ball from under Julia Sonntag’s pads.
The Green Army goal led a charmed life in the 22nd minute when Elisa Grave contrived to hit both posts in the one move before Beth Barr eventually cleared. Sonntag brilliantly saved from Nicci Daly’s volley for 1-1 at half-time.
The third quarter was free-flowing and end-to-end with both sides winning penalty corners. Sonntag again denied Daly with a sharp save and McFerran brilliantly tipped away a Rebecca Grote push.
Ireland carried the fight with Daly and Sonntag’s personal duel won again by the goalie. Germany then had a goal denied, the umpire’s whistle going just before the ball crossed the goal line. Then they had their stroke when the ball hit a body on the line. McFerran saved from Nike Lorenz.
The final chance fell to Anna O’Flanagan but Sonntag completed a great game when she burst off the line to save with her helmet.
For Germany’s coach Xavier Reckinger, he described it as “quite stressful” in the closing stages but was happy his side held their nerve.
“We did many things really well. You should not forget, Ireland was the runner-up [in the World Cup]. They have incredible passing and dribbling skills. Now [in the semi-finals], I do not care who comes. We can beat anyone.”
Sonntag looked back on her own fine performance: “I would actually have preferred it to have been a bit quieter at the end. But we also showed again how strong our defense is.
“We certainly made life difficult for ourselves. If you want to win, you have to be offensively strong – and we did not guarantee that in the end.”
Umpires: H Harrison (ENG), L Delforge (BEL)
Ireland – Germany
8’ Pia Maertens (FG) 0-1
15’ Sarah Hawkshaw (PC) 1-1