The Netherlands reached yet another Women’s World Cup field hockey final after beating Australia in a shootout on Saturday.
The Dutch conceded a penalty corner goal with seven minutes left but prevailed in a shootout 3-1 to foil the Australians’ bid for a first world title in 20 years.
In their fifth successive final on Sunday, the Dutch will defend the title against first-time finalist Ireland, which extended its stunning run by upsetting Spain 3-2 in a shootout after 1-1 in regulation of their semifinal. “I didn’t think this would happen,” Ireland coach Graham Shaw said. “What a feeling.”
It’s a feeling the Netherlands know all too well. Of the 13 previous World Cups, the Netherlands appeared in 11 and won a record seven.
This Dutch side hasn’t lost since the Olympic final two years ago. At this World Cup, they came into the semifinals having scored 28 goals and conceding only two.
Kelly Jonker scored in the first half after she was picked out by Lidewij Welten, who made a fine run down the right side. But the Netherlands’ dominance was spoiled by Georgina Morgan clipping a penalty corner shot low into the left side for the tying goal.
The match went to a shootout, where both sides scored from their first shots, but then the goalies saved two each.
Xan de Waard then got around Australia goalkeeper Rachael Lynch for 2-1. Dutch goalie Josine Koning then denied Karri McMahon, who shot wide. Given the chance to clinch the win, Welten scored between Lynch’s legs.
“The Australia goalkeeper was very good but we should have finished it in the match, we created enough chances,” Welten said.
The Irish made a dream start against Spain, with Anna O’Flanagan touching in a penalty corner after only three minutes at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Spain began to exert some concerted pressure and Alicia Magaz equalized in the 39th.
It stayed that way to fulltime, meaning another shootout for Ireland following its quarterfinal victory over India.
After five attempts for each side finished 2-2, the shootout went to sudden death. Ireland goalie Ayeisha McFerran made a stick save of Georgina Oliva’s shot, then Gillian Pinder confidently converted her second shootout goal and the winner.
From out of nowhere, Ireland has reached its first major final. Ranked 16th, the second lowest in the World Cup, it topped a group including Olympic champion England and was first into the quarterfinals.
This is Ireland’s first World Cup since 2002, and its previous best result was 11th in 1994.
“The last bit of our soul will be out on the pitch tomorrow,” Ireland’s Elena Tice said.