Jill Boon’s 28th minute goal put Belgium in dreamland as they reached the final of the European Championships, setting up the biggest date in their women’s national team’s hockey history in Saturday’s final.
She got the perfect touch to Barbara Nelen’s cross from the wing, lifting the ball up and out of reach of Julia Ciupka
Belgium had already shown their teeth, winning a couple of penalty corners and putting up to Germany at every turn. The Germans, for their part, had a goal disallowed for a foot when Anna Schroder battled through the circle, slipping to Franzisca Hauke who rolled home.
The Olympic bronze medalists came within inches of equalising, too, when Schroder hit the outside of the goal after Aisling d’Hooghe saved a Charlotte Stapenhorst penalty corner.
Belgium, though, kept winning corners – eventually running up eight of them – which they could not capitalise on to place Germany under more and more pressure as the game became increasingly physical.
As is the German spirit, they battled with the way to the end, earning two corners of their own in the closing two minutes. Nike Lorenz saw one charged down before Stapenhorst had a last-ditch effort also saved to preserve the clean sheet and that precious place in the final.
Barbara Nelen summed up the mood: “It’s amazing, the first time we did it, the first medal in a European Cup. We wrote history today and I am super proud of this team.
“We had nothing to lose and Germany had to come out and play. We hadn’t produced yet in the tournament and we finally played offensively. We changed our tactics and it worked and we have a final to look forward to.
“It’s the final of the Olympics at 8pm so we are going to play one of the best in the world. For us, it’s amazing, playing in front of a crowd of 10,000 people so super happy.”
Germany – Belgium 0-1 (0-1)
28’ Jill Boon 1-0
Umpires: A Unka (NZL), S Wilson (SCO)