Rourkela, Feb 13: World and Olympic champions, the Netherlands women extended their winning run to nine matches this season in the FIH Hockey Pro League, beating the United States in their first match of the Rourkela-leg of the competition on Monday.
While the United States produced a strong defensive effort, they couldn’t prevent the defending champions from claiming a comfortable 4-0 victory.
The Netherlands continued their dominance with a comfortable victory over the USA and maintained their position atop the table with an unbeaten record, winning all nine matches for 27 points. China, who prevailed over India 2-1 on Monday, are second with 12 points from four wins from five matches.
Ultimately it came down to a tussle between a rampant Dutch attack and a resilient American defence. The USA, who rode on their impregnable defence to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games at nearby Ranchi, had arguably the best opportunity of a goalless first quarter. But it was their first wave penalty-corner runners and the excellent Jennifer Rizzo in goal who kept them in contention under regular pressure.
The Dutch eventually found a goal in the 16th minute, the penalty corner variation back to injector Freeke Moes handing her the easiest of flicks into the net. Their second goal came in the 21st minute, Fay van der Elst pouncing on the scraps in front of the goal when the USA couldn’t clear the ball after a double save from Rizzo. The impressive keeper made another double save before half-time, meaning the USA were just 2-0 down at the break.
The USA forced a good save from Josine Koning early in the second half, but the Dutch then intercepted a ball outside their circle and worked it up the length of the field for Felice Albers to finish from an exquisite cross by Elzemiek Zandee in the 36th minute.
The Netherlands then ran rampant for the rest of the half, but the American defensive unit, with Kelsey Bing in goal, was outstanding. Only Van der Elst could find a goal, deflecting one through Bing from close range to wrap up the victory. (IANS)