Dutch outlast plucky Mexicans
by Derek O'Brien|07 OCT 2021
The Netherlands' Julie Zwarthoed (#10) tries to attack despite tenacious checking from Mexico's Maria Chavez (#17).
photo: Michal Chwieduk

The Dutch were the favoured to win this game and throughout the game there was no doubt who the better team was, but Mexico put up a resilient fight for most of the hockey game and were within two goals after two periods before ultimately falling 7-1.

“In the end we gave up a couple of soft goals but overall, I think we were pretty good, especially the first two periods,” said Mexican coach Diego de la Garma. “The Dutch are a good team – that’s why they are in Division 1A – and we were able to compete, our structure was good, we got some chances, so I’m really happy with the way my team played.”

In terms of possession and zone time, the Dutch were dominant from the start but weren’t as sharp with their passing or shots as they’d have liked, and then were slowed a bit when Kayley Hammers was sent off for bodychecking.

The Netherlands’ alternate captain made up for that, however, by opening the scoring less than 30 seconds after stepping out of the box – circling the Mexican net and going upstairs with goaltender Monica Renteria trying to take away the bottom of the net.

The Dutch had two power plays over the last four minutes of the period and pressed hard but were unable to increase their lead, although Julie Zwarthoed rang a one-timer off the goalpost in the waning moments.

“We had some problems in the first period, trying to find the right player in the right spot, but after that we started playing hockey,” said Dutch head coach Joep Franke. “We started moving the puck around and created enough chances, so overall it was okay.”

Three minutes into the second period, the Dutch were buzzing in the Mexican zone and Hammers found Zwarthoed for the backdoor tap-in to double the lead. Then just shy of the game’s midpoint, Hammers and Zwarthoed set up Emily Even at the point, who had time and space to tee up her own slapper and made no mistake.

On Hammers and Zwarthoed, who finished the game with three points apiece, Dutch captain Bieke van Nes said: “They’ve been with us for a long time and they play in Sweden together, so when you see them play here together, they’re very well-adjusted to each other and they generate a lot of offence for us.”

Just before the end of the middle frame, the Mexicans got a huge boost from a buzzer-beating goal. The puck was deep in their own end with five seconds left in the period, but Bertha Gonzalez send a long pass nearly the length of the ice that Joanna Rojas caught up to, then cut inside to beat a Dutch defender and avoid a poke-check from Nadia Zijstra before depositing the puck upstairs just before the horn sounded. A video review was needed to confirm time hadn’t expired, but the goal stood and Mexico was on the board.

“I think we had a great opportunity and Joanna Rojas, she took the opportunity and she went for it,” said Gonzalez. “It was a great chance she took, and we of course had some other chances but she finished that one well and it was motivating.”

Four minutes into the third period, the three-goal lead was restored when Even found open at the point Kimberly Collard, whose shot hit a leg in front and dribbled past Renteria. The puck was retrieved as a keepsake for the 17-year-old’s first goal with the national team.

“Honestly, we were all expecting it,” van Nes said of the goal by Collard, who got some time on the top line. “She’d been doing really well, so it was a nice moment and we’re all happy for her and we’ll celebrate that a little bit later.

From there, the Dutch pulled away. Goals by van Nes and Michelle Noe and then Zwarthoed’s second of the game rounded out the scoring.

Tomorrow, the Netherlands faces Turkey and then Mexico takes on host Poland in the nightcap.  

Netherlands vs Mexico - 2022 Women's Olympic Qualification Group H