Playing her last and 200th hockey international match on Saturday, Kim Lammers was simply superb as she played brilliant hockey in her farewell game that saw Netherlands defeat Australia 2-0 in the final of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014. While Lammers retired in glory at the end of an engrossing final, the entire Dutch side gave her a tearful send off. It was the seventh world cup crown for Netherlands women, who had won the championship earlier in 1974, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1990 and 2006. The Kyocera Stadium at The Hague was packed with 15000 vociferous fans to watch the home team play the all-important final against the talented Australian women, who were every bit as equally matched as any international sporting finalists should be. In addition to those watching the final in the Kyocera Stadium, there were also millions of hockey fans worldwide, constituting the global television audience, which saw the match with rapt attention.
Bolstered by tremendous home support, charged-up fans in the stands and social-media sites, the reigning Olympic champions began by mounting an explosive attack in the Australian half. The first few minutes of the match were extremely thrilling as the Dutch forwards put the Australian defense under relentless pressure. As the fans screamed with all their lung-power, the Dutchwomen played as if they have already won the match. The Netherlands forced an early penalty corner, when Ellen Hoog’s superb backhand strike at the goal was tipped around the post. But captain Maartje Paumen’s penalty corner drag flick was smartly intercepted by her equally brilliant Australian counterpart Madonna Blyth. After the ten minutes of the Dutch dominance, Australian women collected themselves and raided the Dutch penalty area in retaliation. The screaming in the stands drowned out, when the Australian Emily Hurtz produced a fine trap and a first-time shot. The Dutch escaped narrowly as Hurtz’s shot was beautifully saved by the goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek. The first reward to the Dutch came, when the fast-moving Roos Drost was rashly challenged by an Australian in the penalty area. The referee quickly pointed to the penalty spot and captain Paumen made no mistake with the penalty stroke as the floater from her stick found the top left corner. This 12th minute goal sent the home fans into rapturous celebrations and boosted the invigorated Dutchwomen. In the 29th minute, Kim Lammers found an opportunity to score from close-range, after a fantastic run by Ellen Hoog on the left flank resulted in the ball coming to Lammers. The entire stadium stood in applauding Lammers, for whom it was a special but also a somber moment. It was fitting that Lammer’s goal in the final would seal the victory for her country as she bade farewell to the world of hockey and wrote her name as an all-time great of the history of world hockey.
Trailing 0-2 at halftime, the Australians didn’t want to surrender meekly. Known worldwide for their undying attitude, the Australian women gave a tough fight to the Dutch. They wasted a penalty corner in the first half but they started the second half by attacking the Dutch defense straightaway. The Australians got another penalty corner in the second half and as always the superbly talented Anna Flanagan produced a deadly drag flick. But the Dutch goalkeeper Sombroek was valiant in her save. Later in the second half, the Dutch wrested the initiative yet again. They would got their third goal but Karri McMahon blocked a stinging shot from Paumen’s penalty corner that was going into the goal like a bullet. Kelly Jonker and Lammers also had their chances but while one was blocked by a defender, the other struck the post.
Despite brave attempts by the Australian women, Netherlands held their nerves and ended the match with the tag of world champions. Lammers was honored with Adidas Best Goal of Tournament for a brilliant deflection in the match against New Zealand in the league phase. Paumen was named Hero Top Scorer, with seven goals and Ellen Hoog earned the distinction as the Rabobank Best Player of the Tournament. Australia’s Rachael Lynch was named Interpolis Best Goalkeeper
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