EHL Shootout Heartbreak For M1
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men suffered heartbreak in the KO16 stage of the Euro Hockey League Ranking Cup in Braaschaat, Belgium, losing to hosts, KHC Dragons 3-1 in a shootout after a 1-1 draw in normal time.
Just as in April 2019, when Surbiton lost 4-2 in a shootout to Waterloo Ducks in Eindhoven in the KO16 stage of the Euro Hockey League, the reigning Men's Hockey League champions competed with their Belgian opponents but were undone in the shootout.
At least this time there was no controversy after Zach Wallace had had to retake his shootout attempt in Eindhoven due to a hooter malfunction, as David Goodfield was Surbiton's only goalscorer from four attempts as Loic van Doren was on top form in the Dragons goal.
Dragons dominated possession in the first quarter, but Surbiton defended well. There were few scoring opportunities in the first period, but Surbiton goalkeeper, Ore Ogunlana made a superb save from the hosts first penalty corner in the 14th minute and Dragons nearly fell behind just before the hooter when Nick Park forced a save from van Doren.
Surbiton came more in the game in the second quarter with Ben Boon swinging at the ball in vain in the Dragons circle and Luke Taylor needed in defence when Dragons attacked. However the game was still goalless at half time.
The third quarter saw both teams score, Thomas Crols putting Dragons ahead in the 34th minute with an angled shot into the far right corner from wide of the left post.
Eight minutes later Surbiton equalised from their only penalty corner of the match, Taylor's drag-flick perfectly placed into the inside right netting.
There were times when the ball just didn't fall for Surbiton in the Dragons circle and with a bit more luck they might have found the second goal, but as it became more obvious that the match would be decided by a shootout, both teams tried aerial and long pass tactics to try and catch each other's defences out.
The shootout duly arrived with Sam Spencer going first for Surbiton, only for Van Doren to save. Felix Denayer gave Dragons the lead with a lob over Ogunlana. David Goodfield levelled at 1-1, before Henri Raes restored Dragons lead, finding the backboard from wide of the left post.
Jamie Golden's shot went past the right post and Surbiton's hopes of progress were held by a thread when Robbert Rubens gave Dragons a 3-1 advantage.
Tom Sorsby was denied by van Doren and Surbiton were left with a ranking of joint 13th because they were deemed to have beaten Dinamo AK-Bars in the ranking club after they withdrew due to a number of positive Covid-19 cases.
Surbiton will be disappointed, but know that they can compete and just have to find a way to use their experience to their advantage in future tournaments.