The Orange Women started what coach Paul van Ass said was an ‘important trip’ in the preparation for the Paris Olympic Games with an easy victory over the United States. In the Indian Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar, the absolute leading role was claimed by Pien Dicke. The attacker scored no fewer than four goals in the Pro League match won 7-0.
With the victory, the Dutch team remains undefeated at the top position in the Pro League and is on course to extend the title again. Much more important than winning the prestigious national competition is the Olympic tournament that starts in Paris at the end of July for the coach and players.
All matches in the run-up to this will be all about forging an unbeatable formation for the coach. The players have only one mission: to be part of the selection of only sixteen players of the defending champion. A place in that group automatically means a lifetime chance of the highest achievable in a hockey career: Olympic gold.
Pien Dicke cheers at her third goal. Photo: Sankalp Tripathi/Worldsportspics
The Dutch hockey players – insofar as they were not already – are aware that this battle is fierce after Van Ass’s hard decision not to take Lidewij Welten to the French capital, because, according to Van Ass, ‘the younger generation is now outdated.’ No fifth Games for the Brabant attacker.
Eva Drummond (formerly De Goede) still has that option. To the surprise of many, she was brought back into the selection. The HGC player played centrally in midfield against the United States in her 262nd international match. Xan de Waard was missing there. The Dutch captain is suffering from an inflammation in her foot and has remained in the Netherlands to work on her recovery. Maria Verschoor therefore wore the captain’s armband.
Captain Maria Verschoor. Photo: Sankalp Tripathi
Under her leadership, Van Ass’ team started the match in Bhubaneswar somewhat cautiously, but quickly became the superior team. The game was still something stickythe coach judged during the half-time interview.
Despite the fact that the Dutch team was not yet playing great, the United States – apart from some teasing blows in the opening phase – could do little against the Dutch team. The team of national coach David Passmore convincingly qualified for Paris last month – where it is classified in the group other than the Dutch team – but will not be a serious candidate for the medal there, as it became clear in India on Saturday. There is no lack of commitment, fitness and strength, but technically and tactically the Americans are still far behind the world top.
The Dutch team expressed the difference in strength in the first quarter in two goals. In the thirteenth minute Luna Fokke scored an excellent goal. After a one-two with Freeke Moes, Welten’s Kampong teammate hit the ball hard and low against the board: 1-0.
A minute later it was 2-0. This time too, Moes was the signaler, now Pien Dicke tapped in the cross. For Moes her ninth and tenth assist in the Dutch team. There she seems to take over the role as assist queen from Laurien Leurink, who retired last year.
The main players at Oranje in pictures: Freeke Moes and Pien Dicke. Photo: Sankalp Tripathi
In the second quarter, the Dutch team’s play was not much stronger. Nevertheless, the Pro League title holder was never in danger defensively and still had some chances offensively. That did not lead to more goals.
Immediately after the break, the US lent a helping hand to the Dutch team by defending childishly (ball through the middle) and thus enabling Dicke to make it 3-0. The SCHC attacker completed her hat trick a few minutes later. After a nice attack via (of course) Moes and Felice Albers, Dicke was the accurate finish for the 4-0.
And if that wasn’t enough, Dicke even scored her fifth goal in the fourth quarter. A nice reward for the player who was out of action for a year due to a lingering foot injury, but who put herself in the spotlight for Paris a few months before the Games.
Pien Dicke with a nice action over the back line. Photo: WORLDSPORTPICS/Sankalp Tripathi
Yibbi Jansen seems certain in advance of a place in that group. She added another goal to her impressive record by taking advantage of two penalty shots just before the end and making the final score 7-0.
The Dutch team will play again on Sunday. Then in India the home country is the opponent. The match starts at 3 p.m. and can be seen live on hockey.nl.
Today is also the day that the Orange Ladies play their first official international match of 2024. In the Pro League, Paul van Ass’ team plays against the United States. There will be a turn off in Bhubaneswar at 1:00 PM. The match can be seen live via our channels. Enjoy watching!
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