In the sweltering Japanese heat, Australia’s men’s hockey team, the Kookaburras, defeated the Netherlands 2(3)-2(0) in a penalty shootout in the quarter final.
After holding all the play in the first half, the Kookaburras were challenged by a Netherlands team who wouldn’t say die.
Both sides scored in the third term, and a dominant Dutch final quarter saw them equalise to force the game to a penalty shoot-out.
Australian keeper Andrew Charter didn’t let a single goal through. Despite nearly giving up a penalty in the Netherlands final shot, he was ultimately the hero of the day.
After finishing fourth at Rio 2016, it was a disappointing end for the Netherlands after battling hard to qualify fourth in its group.
Catch up on the game as it happened with The Inner Sanctum‘s recap of the game from the first whistle to the winning shot.
The tale of the first half
The Dutch side found the first scoring opportunity of the match just a minute in. They earned two penalty corners, but Aussie keeper Charter stood resolute in front of the net.
He lunged forward on the first attempt, smothering any attempt with a full bodied save.
It was Tom Wickham who tried to get the Kookaburras on the board first, but his first shot sailed wide across the court and out of play.
His second foray towards the striking circle was foiled by a wall of Dutch defenders. However, the Kookaburras weren’t deterred, intercepting the Dutch passes and not allowing them to move forward of the halfway line.
Wickham’s third shot barely sailed past the goal, and the Kookaburras soon earned their first corner.
Blake Govers was looking just as dangerous off the corner, attacking the goal aggressively and earning another corner. His second shot sailed just wide, but the Kookaburras regained possession.
Halfway through the first term and Australia was clearly dominant, holding 82% possession.
After a contested few minutes of play, the Netherlands earned another corner. A noted weakness of theirs throughout the Games, having only converted one corner to a score, Charter completed the save once again.
Holding steady in defence, the Dutch surge forward was stopped once again and the Kookaburras were back on attack.
After a scramble in front of goals, Wickham snuck his flick just past Dutch keeper Pirmin Blaak to register the first score of the match and give Australia the early ascendancy.
The Netherlands got right back to it, firing a long range shot at Charter’s shin pad which deflected out of play, earning them another corner.
Mink van der Weerden’s first shot of the game was easily swatted away by Charter, and the Kookaburras took the quarter time lead 1-0.
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Govers found himself benched to start the second term with a green card for a dangerous challenge, but the defence picked up the slack. Aran Zalewski held firm and his clean passes cleared the Aussies out of danger more than once.
It was Blaak’s turn to earn the keeping plaudits, weathering the Kookaburras’ strikes with a crucial save.
Wickham had the time and space off an intercepted pass, sprinting past the halfway line. He was quickly stopped by the Dutch defenders before he could even dream of shooting, however, and the Aussies were pushed back yet again.
With three minutes left in the half, Zalewski gained possession in defence and ran the ball all the way within striking distance. Once again though, the Dutch defenders gave him no room to move an attack on the goal.
A long pass into the circle for Australia’s seventh penetration wasn’t converted by Tim Brand, and the half wound down with no score in the second.
No second half chances
The Netherlands struck first in the third term, earning an early foul right outside the circle. Despite the Kookaburras best defensive efforts, the Dutch found themselves with a penalty corner.
They duly converted through van der Weerden with a well-waited drag flick, just the Netherlands second goal off a penalty corner for the tournament.
It was all cylinders firing for the inspired Netherlands after its opening score, but Jacob Whetton managed to win a clash to kill a dangerous charge forward.
The Kookaburras were keen to get back on the scoreboard quickly with a long, high pass into the right corner, but Govers couldn’t control it and it sailed out, Govers had a shot shortly after, but it flew left of the goal.
With precision movement and passing, a deflection off Tim Howard gave the Netherlands another penalty corner and the box seat to take the lead. Charter made his sixth save of the game, but the Dutch were immediately back in possession.
The intensity was lifting bit by bit, and the effect of the hard running of the first half was beginning to show for the Australians.
It took a bit of doing, but the Kookaburras finally managed to break the Dutch line again with a precision pass from Tim Brand.
Wickham, all alone just to the left of the goals, flicked through the Kookaburras’ second goal of the game to take back the lead and inject a bit of life back into it.
Brand nearly made it two in a minute with a mad dash into the circle, but Jorrit Croon kept the pressure on and forced the flick out of play.
The Netherlands earned the third green card of the game with three minutes left to play in the quarter.
Not content to take just a one goal lead into the last quarter, the Australian charge wasn’t done yet. Zalewski had two chances to set up a score off fouls on the top of the circle, but neither could find their mark.
Heading into the final deciding term, the scorecard read 2-1, Australia’s way.
The Dutch may have had first possession at the last whistle, but the Kookaburras regained control of the ball within 20 seconds after forcing an errant flick out of play.
A precision pass from to Brand found him in a dangerous spot in the circle, flicking a pass across to Zalewski who missed it by all of a few centimetres after a gut-busting run.
Dylan Martin earned himself an untimely yellow card as the Netherlands were awarded a penalty corner.
Charter, having an incredible game in front of the goal, managed to find two saves in the mad throng of players desperately looking for a score in front of goals.
After some discussion between the referees, Jeroen earned a penalty stroke. With just Charter defending the goal, the Netherlands equalised.
Mirco Pruijser was shown a yellow card almost immediately afterwards, leaving both teams down a man on the pitch coming into the tense final stretch.
Flynn Olgilvie’s positioning was barely off as the Kookaburras pushed forward for another desperate chance. Blaak dived in the way of the charging Aussie, and stopped any hope of a score.
With the clock winding down, the play was all the way of the Netherlands for the first time all game. The dam wall looked very near breaking on more than one occasion.
Whetton earned a free hit at the top of the circle, but a deflection off Lachlan Sharp meant the ball went back to the Dutch. It was short-lived though, the Aussies back in control immediately.
Sander de Wijn shored up the defence and intercepted an awry Australian long flick towards the circle.
An incredible save of the last ditch Aussie shot towards goal meant the game was headed to a shoot-out, both teams tied 2-2.
The shoot-out of fate
After a short break, the penalty shoot-out was set to start. The Netherlands won the coin toss, electing to shoot first.
Hertzberger shot first, drawing Charter up out of the goal. It was a commanding effort by the Australian, clashing with his opponents stick and then standing tall to make the save easily.
Govers was up first for the Kookaburras. Waiting for the perfect moment, he fired his shot to the left past Blaak after faking him out to the right.
Robbert Kemperman strode confidently in next, turning his back to Charter but firing errantly past the goal and out to the left.
Ogilvie’s first shot was blocked up close by Blaak, but his second attempt rocketed past the keeper and gave Australia the 2-0 lead. One more save would mean the Aussies would need just one final goal to win.
Charter got a bit too physical as Jonas de Geus came in for the Netherlands third shot, at danger of giving up a penalty, but he still failed to score.
Brand made it a sure thing for the Aussies, stepping around Blaak to the left and scoring truly. The referees looked for a possible back stick, but on review, it was an Australian 3-0 victory in the penalty shoot-out to advance to a semi final match up with Germany.
AUS: Wickham 2
NED: Hertzberger, van der Weerden
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