First loss of tournament knocks Hockeyroos out of World Cup quest for gold

The Hockeyroos' body language says it all after getting so close to the gold and failing by so little. <i>Photo: EPA/AAP</i>

The Hockeyroos' body language says it all after getting so close to the gold and failing by so little. Photo: EPA/AAP

The Hockeyroos’ hopes of winning World Cup gold are over after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to the No.1 ranked Netherlands in Spain.

The Netherlands secured the win courtesy of a goal to Frederique Matla in the 42nd minute, with the Hockeyroos unable to find the equaliser.

The result means the Hockeyroos will now play Germany in the bronze medal match on Monday, while the Netherlands will take on Argentina in the final.

Argentina beat Germany on penalties in the other semi-final.

“It was as great test for our girls. We had them on the ropes for a while there and it was a lucky penalty corner that unfortunately went in,” lamented Hockeyroos captain Jane Claxton.

“We have to rebuild for tomorrow and start again. Any medal match is an excellent opportunity for us to grow so we will be going out to do our best to win bronze.”

Netherlands’ relentless attack

The loss to Spain was the Hockeyroos’ first defeat of the tournament, and they did well to push the world’s best team all the way.

The Hockeyroos played just four internationals leading into the World Cup, and they entered the semi-final featuring seven players with 25 internationals or less to their name.

The Netherlands made a bright start, with Hockeyroos goalkeeper Jocelyn Bartram saving Maria Verschoor’s strike in the fourth minute.

Chances were few and far between in the first half, with the Netherlands winning the first penalty corner of the match just before the long break.

Renee Taylor did superbly on the goal line to keep the resultant drag flick from finding the back of the net.

Bartram made a string of excellent reflex saves in the second half as the Netherlands started to flex their muscle.

The Hockeyroos’ brave resistance eventually gave way in the 42nd minute when Matla managed to direct a low drag flick just inside the post to give the reigning champions the lead.

Conceding just their second goal of the tournament, the Hockeyroos came out in the last quarter with greater urgency as they chased an equaliser, Steph Kershaw doing her best to get her team back in the contest.

However, despite a string of circle entries in the dying minutes, the Hockeyroos could not convert their attacking forays into serious goal-scoring opportunities.


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