Rotterdam and Bloemendaal join FINAL4 party
HC Rotterdam and HC Bloemendaal stormed through to the EHL FINAL4, joining fellow Dutch side SV Kampong and the Belgian fairytale story Herakles.
Rotterdam stormed through to the FINAL4 of the EHL with a dominant first half performance to see off Uhlenhorst Mulheim 13-1, setting up a date with Bloemendaal on May 26
They did fall behind five minutes into the game when Lukas Windfeder whipped in a penalty corner drag-flick. Rotterdam replied quickly with two set piece goals of their own with Jeroen Hertzberger scoring the equaliser.
It was his 36th goal of the EHL, pushing him back to the top of the goalscoring list, one ahead of Marco Miltkau who had moved level with him on Sunday with a strike against Dinamo Kazan.
Tjep Hoedemakers put Rotterdam in front with an equally powerful drag or 2-1 in the 10th minute before the game was well and truly won in the second quarter.
Seve van Ass was the inspiration in making it 4-1 with a surging run that ended with a goalkeeping block but Hoedemakers returned the ball back across where van Ass was waiting to tip in.
Albert Beltran and Diede van Puffelen created the next with another series of fast runs out of defence. Again, the first wave was repelled but the next one fell to Beltran who crossed to Hoedemakers who applied a brilliant one-time finish.
Van Ass got another to make it 8-1 at half-time when he exchanged passes with Thijs van Dam. Van Ass then further augmented the score with a 48th minute corner and Nick Catlin slammed in a field goal with six minutes to go to put the score into double figures and Thijs van Dam chipped in another to complete the rout.
Speaking afterwards, Rotterdam’s Seve van Ass felt the tactical setups from each side played into his side’s hands.
“A lot of energy on our side,” he said. “They tried to mix it up between zonal and man-on-man defence. For us, that was perfect because we have a lot of pace and when we have a lot of space, we are a really good team.”
As for what changed from the close-run win on Saturday against Mannheim, he added: “Our dynamics. Our leads gave us better possession.
“Against Mannheim, we didn’t play our game through the midfield and didn’t get those connections with the strikers. We tried to improve that and it worked like we wanted it to.”
For Jeroen Hertzberger, he said it was the perfect end to the perfect weekend for his club.
“This was four days of an amazing atmosphere. It was such a pleasure to play; we don’t get this in league games. It was an amazing experience and I really want to thank the club for organising.
The volunteers, it is unreal what they have done. This is one of the best club experiences I have had in my career so far and I think it’s the same for everyone in the team.”
Earlier in the day, Bloemendaal got over a sticky start against Saint Germain to eventually run out 8-0 winners.
It was a double bonus for the club as they will also host the FINAL4 event at their Noord Holland base where they will hope to win their third EHL title.
Early on, the French side were much the livelier, drawing a trip of good saves from Jaap Stockmann, peppering his goalmouth with Joris Harou forcing him to scramble.
Arthur Thieffry then came into his own with a double save, using his helmet to keep out Thierry Brinkman and then Florian Fuchs and Sander ’t Hart.
Fuchs though got the breakthrough in the 19th minute when he got some space and smashed a shot through Thieffry’s defences. And the pressure began to tell when Roel Bovendeert scored his fourth field goal of the weekend soon after from Jord Beekmans cross.
Jamie Dwyer added his name to the scoresheet from a penalty stroke in the third quarter after Tim Jenniskens was felled. Bovendeert then made extra sure with a glorious first time finish following a perfect ball into his path from Tim Swaen.
Looking back on the weekend's work and two 8-0 wins for Bloemendaal, Florian Fuchs said: “I wouldn’t say the win over Dragons was easier than expected but I think we felt really good in the game. In the first quarter, we were the weaker side but as soon as we got the first goal, you saw the team had so much determination and was so willing to put everything into the game.
"This was our moment and we wanted to reach the FINAL4 so much. You felt on the pitch every player was putting in 100%. That’s how we eventually got the win against a very strong opponent.
“Today was maybe mentally tougher against a strong Paris team, especially in the first quarter. We did a good job after that and put a lot more pressure on them."
KHC Dragons and Mannheimer HC won their respective ranking matches on Monday morning, earning their respective nations a boost in the EHL ranking list.
Dragons won a crazy 20-10 ranking match with Three Rock Rovers to finish in ninth place with the Irish club ending in 13th overall.
Mannheimer HC eased to a 7-0 win over Racing Club de France to take a ninth place finish to aid their country’s ranking coefficient while Racing ended 13th in the ratings system.
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