The new Hockey Pro League, designed to promote the sport with matches between the top teams in the world, concluded with the Grand Final for men and women in Amsterdam (NED) and victories by the Australian men and Dutch women.
Only the top four teams from the six months of round-robin play made it to the Grand Final. On the men’s side, Australia was clearly the best team during the round-robin, winning 10 games, losing two in shoot-outs and two outright losses for 32 points. Belgium was second with 28 points (eight wins), with the Dutch third (23) and Great Britain fourth (22).
In the semis, Australia dispatched the British by 6-1 and Belgium defeated the Dutch, 3-1. The final was a showcase for the Kookaburras in the first half, with goals from Trent Mitton, Flynn Ogilvie and Blake Govers for a 3-0 lead. Late goals from Loick Luypaert and Alexander Hendrickx made it close, but were not enough to keep the Aussies from celebrating.
Australian midfielder Aran Zalewski was selected as Best Player of the FIH Pro League, and Govers ended with 12 goals, the most in the league.
All four of the semifinalists qualified for the 2020 Olympic Qualification matches in October and November.
The women’s round-robin had a clear-cut winner in the Dutch, who won 15 of their 16 matches (45 points), finishing far ahead of Argentina (10-2 plus four shoot-out wins for 38). In the semis in Amsterdam, the home favorites squeezed by Germany, 2-1, while Australia won a shoot-out to defeat Argentina, 4-3, after a 1-1 tie in regulation time.
The final was just as close, ending in a 2-2 tie and decided by penalties. The Dutch won, 4-3, after a disallowed penalty by Australia’s Brooke Peris gave Lauren Stam the chance to win it for the home team, and she did just that.
Dutch forward Frederique Matla was selected as the Best Player of the FIH Pro League, with New Zealand’s Olivia Merry topping the scoring charts with 15 goals.
The top four women’s teams advanced to the Olympic Qualifiers later this year. Summaries:
FIH Pro League/Grand Final
Amsterdam (NED) ~ 27-30 June 2019
(Full results here)
Round-robin Standings: 1. Australia, 32 points (won 10, 0 shoot-out wins, 2 losses, 2 shoot-out losses); 2. Belgium, 28 (8-1-3-2); 3. Netherlands, 23 (5-3-4-2); 4. Great Britain, 22 (6-1-5-2); 5. Argentina, 22 (6-1-5-2); 6. Germany, 20 (4-3-5-2); 7. Spain, 16 (2-5-7-0); 8. New Zealand, 4 (0-0-10-4).
Grand Final: 1. Australia; 2. Belgium; 3. Netherlands; 4. Great Britain. Semis: Australia d. Great Britain, 6-1; Belgium d. Netherlands, 3-1. Third: Netherlands d. Great Britain, 5-3. Final: Australia d. Belgium, 3-2.
Round-robin Standings: 1. Netherlands, 45 points (15-0-1-0); 2. Argentina, 38 (10-4-2-0); 3. Australia, 30 (9-1-5-1); 4. Germany, 29 (9-0-5-2); 5. Belgium, 21 (6-1-8-1); 6. New Zealand, 18 (6-0-10-0); 7. China, 14 (4-0-10-2); 8. Great Britain, 14 (3-2-10-1); 9. United States, 7 (1-1-12-2).
Grand Final: 1. Netherlands; 2. Australia; 3. Germany; 4. Argentina. Semis: Netherlands d. Germany, 2-1; Australia d. Argentina, 1-1 (shoot-out: 4-3). Third: Germany d. Argentina, 1-1 (shoot-out: 3-1). Final: Netherlands d. Australia, 2-2 (shoot-out: 4-3).