EuroHockey Club Champions Cup
Quarter-final: UCD 1 (Anna O’Flanagan) Rot Weiss Koln 2 (Hannah Gablac, Lea Stockel)
UCD coach Jonathan Harte admitted he was “raging” as his side were denied an equaliser in contentious fashion as they fell 2-1 to Rot Weiss Koln in their EuroHockey Club Champions Cup in Bilthoven.
Katie Mullan slapped home from the injector’s spot from the student’s eighth penalty corner in the 60th minute to tie things up. But, after several deafening bars of Guru Josh’s Infinity, an umpire’s arm was raised for a free out.
The explanation came later on that a UCD attacker was deemed to have shoved goalkeeper Julia Ciupka out of the way, something few in the stands had noticed in the build-up.
Speaking afterwards, coach Harte said it was a hugely frustrating outcome to a fine performance: “I’m raging in the sense that, over the course of the game, we had more chances than them, more circle entries and corners.”
It added an extra frustration for Harte and his troops after they were unable to make better use of a blistering start.
“We felt that we had to start hard and aggressive and be in their face. We generally go and press teams; it’s a bit different when you are playing one of the top teams in Germany but I felt we had to ask the questions and see what happened and we certainly asked them. It certainly was not easy for them.”
Chloe Watkins was in delightful form, spinning out of tackles and attacking at pace while their aggressive press addled the Rot Weiss defence from the off.
Three corners came in the first four minutes. Deirdre Duke’s baseline run ended with the ball spinning towards goal but was touched away with centimetres to spare by Julia Karwatzky while Anna O’Flanagan hit the outside of the post from Gillian Pinder’s weighted through ball.
The dominance was less all-encompassing in the second quarter but UCD were still the more attacking force, winning two more corners while an Emily Beatty charge saw her flip the ball over Ciupka but Rot Weiss again scrambled clear.
But the Germans had adapted their plan of action well to funnel the UCD defence into the pockets and they nicked some good ball. From there, their star players Hannah Gablac and Lea Stockel did some damage and they scored from a second attack when Franziska Hauke played in Gablac for a simple finish.
And they went 2-0 ahead in the opening moments of the second half via a superbly worked penalty corner, far from a reflection of the game, switched left before being returned to the flick spot for a ramp into the net.
UCD were back in the game with a classy move in the 48th minute. Watkins again made the incision turning a pass from the centre back into the path of Nikki Evans on the left whose shot across was guided in by O’Flanagan.
It left plenty of time for an equaliser. For the most part, the battle was rough and physical and the yellow cards started to come, first for Lena Vonhoegen’s slide tackle and then for O’Flanagan’s over-exuberance after being dispossessed.
Down to ten, though, UCD won the penalty corner which Mullan swept home.
“I am a little bit aggrieved! The girls feel more than a little bit aggrieved! We’ll look at the video and see.,” was the toned-down response from Harte.
Once it was ruled out, the students struggled to maintain composure as their attacks got more ragged and they could not summon another clean chance.
It means they will play in the fifth to eighth place playoffs that start on Sunday with UCD facing either Dutch hosts SCHC or England’s Canterbury, something Harte is looking forward to.
“It’s easy to bounce back; we don’t get an opportunity to play at this level of competition very often.”
UCD: T Ellis, S Greene, L Ewart, N Evans, C Watkins, K Mullan, A O’Flanagan, E Beatty, S Robinson, G Pinder, D Duke
Subs: J Deacon, E Carey, M O’Donnell, E Duncan, S Twomey
Rot Weiss Koln: J Ciupka, L Stockel, L Vonhoegen, P Velmands, P Grambusch, J Peeters, F Hauke, J Volk, N Pahl, H Gablac, J Karwatzky
Subs: C Schroder, K Huls, R Grote, H Busch, L May, S Lobe