L1 Denied By UHC Hamburg In EHL Ranking Cup Final
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies were denied by UHC Hamburg in the ABN-Amro EHL Ranking Cup Final, going down 2-0 as Amy Costello converted two penalty corner conversions in Hamburg.
Surbiton were hoping it would be third time lucky, having lost to UHC 6-0 in the quarter-finals in the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup in Bilthoven in 2016 and 4-1 in the fifth/sixth place playoff in Amsterdam in 2019.
However, in a competitive match, it was Hamburg's penalty corner routine which proved decisive, Costello striking in the 11th and 41st minutes to earn Hamburg the fifth place ranking.
Surbiton dominated possession for the first couple of minutes before UHC threatened in the third, a double aerial move out of defence only foiled when Lisa Musci and Yara Mandel couldn't quite combine.
Surbiton were the first to force a penalty corner, Darcy Bourne testing Hamburg goalkeeper, Noelle Rother in the sixth minute, but five minutes later, Costello's drag-flick took a deflection past Surbiton's Sabbie Heesh.
Towards the end of the first quarter, Leah Wilkinson had a shot from Surbiton's second penalty corner, but UHC carried their 1-0 lead into the second quarter.
UHC's Nicola Pluta was a threat from their second and third penalty corners, only to have a drag-flick shot ruled too high and also subsequently set up a counter attack out of defence which Surbiton thankfully defused.
Both teams played attacking hockey with Georgie Twigg and Maddie Long just failing to connect in the circle for Surbiton and Johanna Seelmaecker going on a run and playing a long ball intended for Mandel.
Costello had another penalty corner opportunity in the second quarter, the shot going past the right post and both teams exchanged penalty corners just before half time, UHC suffering from a mistrapped injection and Twigg forced to give the ball away under pressure from the UHC defence.
UHC dominated possession early in the third quarter, but Surbiton were more threatening, Twigg and Emily Defroand attacking down the right wing before UHC captain, Emily Gunther intervened and Sarah Evans and Alice Sharp both having shots on goal, Sharp aiming for for an attacking deflection from outside the circle.
UHC's Amelie Wortmann felt the full force of a Bourne drag-flick from a penalty corner a minute before Costello struck again, the ball nestling in the Surbiton net.
Trailing 2-0 going into the fourth quarter, Surbiton attacked, but couldn't get the breakthrough, the most dangerous moment coming when Bourne's cross from the right was neatly deflected by Long, but Rother made a superb reflex save.
Surbiton therefore had to settle for runners-up spot, and sixth place in the EHL Ranking Cup after being able to play only one game after Pegasus forfeited the semi-final, Surbiton being given a 5-0 win.
UHC had beaten HC Minsk in their semi-final the day before, so had some tournament practice in advance of the final.
Surbiton were due to play East Grinstead this weekend and the West Sussex club had problems of their own, finishing fourth out of five clubs in the EuroHockey Club Trophy in Lille, France.
East Grinstead beat the hosts 7-0 in their second match, having lost 8-1 to Gantoise in their opener. Complutense beat them 4-3 on Saturday and Braxgata won 5-0 on Sunday.
Gantoise won all four games, Computense were runners-up and Braxgata finished third.