Germany overcame a major second half stutter when the Netherlands leveled from 0-3 down,before eventually coming through 5-3 in the semifinal of the Junior Hockey World Cup. The win takes them within a game of their sixth junior world title. They will play France,who reached their maiden final,who won on penalties (3-1) after playing out a 1-1 draw with Malaysia.
In a matchup that was a repeat of the last Junior World Cup finals,the Germans were perhaps slight favourites going into their match. In Mats Grambusch and Christopher Ruhr,they had two players with international experience as compared to Holland,which had none. Since their first game defeat against Belgium,Germany have put up a mature show,displaying immense discipline,positional awareness and,most critically,that has giving opponents few easy chances.
Against Netherlands they were clinical in the opponents half,making their first circle incursion count. A penalty corner was earned in the fourth minute and Nicholas Windfer rocketed the shot high to the right of keeper Pieter Noordam. Ten minutes later it was 2-0 for Germany. Nordam was at fault giving away a PC after padding way a shot onto his own defenders face. Windfer would make no mistake,sounding the board with a low shot.
Noordam was rattled and unsurprisingly he was substituted soon after. The new keeper Jan de Wijkerslooth was called into action in a PC and justified his substitution with a brilliant save to deny Windfer a third. Germanys domination wasnt complete — they gave a couple of chances and Viktor Aly kept the lead 2-0 after reflex saves off a PC in the final seconds of the first half.
Holland,needing to strike early in the second half,started with four players in the forward line. Shooting from the top of the circle,Tom Hiebendaal clipped the post early in the second half. Five minutes in,Thierry Brinkman received a long pass,turned past his marker and shot from close range but Aly again blocked. Germany then got a three goal cushion in the 47th minute when Christopher Ruhr,who has already scored a couple of sensational goals in the tournament,produced another. Ruhr stole the ball from behind the centre line,broke through the whole Dutch defense before firing in his eighth goal of the tournament.
It would need a miracle to win from 3-0 down but the Dutch nearly did it. Keeper Aly suffered a brain freeze,pushing a Dutch player,and Tom Hiebendaal put away the penalty stroke without fuss. The celebrations had hardly died down when Brinkman cut the lead to one,pouncing on Alys clearance of Roel Bovendeerts strike from inside the circle. German may have panicked when the Dutch earned another penalty stroke ten minutes from time as Hibenaal again scoring.
The Dutch gamble of crowding their forward line at the expense of their defense had paid off. While many in his position would have now decided to play for time and a chance in the penalty shootout,Dutch coach Sjoerd Marijne decided to go for the win.
It was anyobodys game at this point. A Bovendeert reverse skipped barely wide wide nine minutes from time. Netherlands had missed their best chance to lead and Max Kapaun made the lifeline count when he scored off the narrowest of angles with five minutes to go. The decision was sealed three minutes from time when Ruhr produced another special moment.
A steal from the centre line was followed by a solo run past a couple of defenders,but this time instead of scoring,assisted Niklas Wellen,who blasted home from the end of the circle.
Meanwhile,Australia and Belgium set up a clash for fifth place after beating New Zealand (2-1) and Korea (6-1) respectively.