HGC and Uhlenhorster HC became the first teams to go through to the semi-finals of the Euro Hockey League after an exciting day of hockey in Egara.
Uhlenhorster HC secured a thrilling 2-1 victory over Loughborough Students in the first match of the day. The match ended in dramatic fashion, with Loughborough having two overtime penalty corner chances to take the game into extra-time, but Uhlenhorster survived to reach the last four.
The second quarter-final of the day saw HGC defeat Ono Atletic Terrassa 2-1. The winning goal came from the stick of Bram Lomans, who converted a penalty stroke in the fourth quarter of the game in front of a large crowd at Club Egara.
The two remaining quarter finals – Reading v Rotterdam and St Germain V Egara – take place on Monday. The matches will be the final fixtures of a tournament that has been blessed with great hockey, good crowds and fantastic entertainment, all at the picturesque Club Egara in Terrassa.
The match between Uhlenhorster and Loughborough Students started well, with both teams determined to play attacking hockey in their bid to reach the semi finals of the competition. Uhlenhorster – supported by a large number of supporters from Germany – won the first penalty corner of the game thanks to excellent link-up play between Carlos Nevado and Philip Witte. However, Loughborough goalkeeper Ali McGregor made two excellent blocks to deny the Germans. Loughborough soon had a penalty corner of their own, after a surging run from Richard Smith was blocked by Uhlenhorster keeper Johannes Blanck, with the ball hitting a foot in the circle. Loughborough did not make the most of the chance, with a mix up at the top of the circle resulting in the opportunity being wasted. Uhlenhorster controlled the opening part of the second period, and took the lead through the ever reliable Philip Sunkel, who tapped into the goal following a good pass from Benjamin Kopp. Loughborough went immediately on the offensive, but it was Uhlenhorster who were still looking the more dangerous of the two teams.
Uhlenhorster scored a second goal in the third period of play thanks to Philip Witte, who surged into the circle from the left before expertly smashing his reverse stick shot into the bottom corner.
Loughborough continued to believe that they still had a chance in the match, well aware that Uhlenhorster had thrown away a 3-0 lead against Kelburne on Friday. This match would also have a dramatic climax. With just under four minutes of the match remaining, Chris Gregg deflected a Jon Bleby free hit into the net from close range. Incredibly, with just seconds left to play, Loughborough were awarded a penalty corner, giving them the chance to equalise. The first corner was slapped towards goal by Bleby, but the Uhlenhorster defenders cleared and began celebrating. Their celebrations soon turned to protestations when the umpire awarded another penalty corner instead of signalling the end of the match. Loughborough had one final chance to stay in the tournament, but Bleby’s drag flick went agonisingly wide of the right post. The Uhlenhorster players charged towards their supporters in celebration, while the Loughborough players collapsed to the floor in disappointment.
The HGC versus Atletic Terrassa match began in frantic fashion, with action at both ends of the field. HGC attacked with pace and creativity, with Terrassa launching numerous good counter-attacks. HGC started to take control of the match, and put the Terrassa defence under a lot of pressure. HGC took the lead shortly before the end of the first quarter, with Timmo Kraunstauber slamming a lose ball into the goal from close range.
Terrassa were right back in the game when they won a penalty corner from a HGC foot in the circle, with Xavi Ribas firing an unstoppable drag flick into the roof of the goal. Terrassa were massively boosted by this, and forced the HGC team to defend heavily to keep the scores level.
HGC’s Lomans – who looked to be genuinely struggling to cope with the pace and skill of the Terrassa forwards for much of the second quarter – had a sensational third quarter, making countless important tackles. The deciding moment arrived five minutes from the end of the game, when Eric Jan Iding won a penalty stroke for being cynically fouled as he was about to shoot in front of goal. Lomans stepped up to the spot and coolly sent his flick to the left of keeper Xavi Castillano to secure victory.
For highlights videos of the matches, click here.
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