The real championship game came in the semifinals of the 2018 FIH women’s World Cup as the last two undefeated teams – Netherlands and Australia – battled for the right to advance to Sunday’s title match.
The Dutch were 4-0-0 and Australia was 2-0-2 going in and the two sides had battled in the finals of the 1990, 2006 and 2014 World Cups, with the Netherlands winning each time.
The game was a tense battle as expected and ended in a 1-1 tie, so penalties were required to find a winner. After Frederique Matla (NED) and Kristina Bats (AUS) scored on the first tries, the next four attempts were foiled and the Xan de Waard (NED) set up for the fourth Dutch try. She scored to take a 2-1 lead and after an Australian miss, Lidewij Welten scored for a 3-1 lead to clinch the win.
The other semifinal also went to penalties, as Ireland and Spain played to a 1-1 tie in regulation time. The shoot-out was 1-1 after three shots apiece and 2-2 after two more rounds. In the sixth round, Spain’s Georgina Oliva missed and Ireland’s Gillian Pinder converted to send the Irish to their first-ever World Cup final.
That was about all the excitement that was left in the tournament. In the final, Welten scored for the Dutch in the seventh minute, followed by Kelly Jonker in the 19th and Kitty van Male in the 28th for a 3-0 lead and the issue was decided. The Dutch had a 4-0 lead at half and cruised home without giving up a goal in the second half, adding two for a 6-0 final.
Spain beat Australia, 3-1, for the bronze.
The tournament awards went to:
Vitality Best Player: Lidewij Welten (NED)
Best Goalkeeper: Ayeisha McFerran (IRL)
Young Player: Lucina von der Hyde (ARG)
Hero Top Scorer: Kitty van Male (NED: 8)
This is the 14th women’s World Cup and the Dutch have now won eight times and three of the last four (also in 2006 and 2014). It was the first medal ever for both Ireland and Spain.