Nunnink hails Den Bosch spirit in Euro success

Laura Nunnink hailed her Den Bosch captain Pien Sanders as the embodiment of what the team hopes to be following a moment of determination that defined the EHL Women’s GRAND FINAL.

Locked at 0-0 last Monday, for many of the over 4,000 who braved the lashing rain in the Wagener Stadium, she seemingly chased a lost cause, straining every sinew to somehow pull the ball back into play from the baseline.

Some of her team mates were already resigned to it being another fruitless attach but she kept it in play and it was enough to open up the chance which Frédérique Matla clipped home for the only goal of a tense final.

Indeed, it was so close to the endline, umpire Alison Keogh sent it upstairs to review the video, the slow-motion showing how close it came to exiting the field of play.

“It is definitely a characteristic of Pien!” Nunnink said of the moment. “She embodies the spirit of the team and it is why she is captain! That was Pien and that is what we want in the team!”

The 1-0 win was the third big fight Den Bosch endured over the weekend, edging out SCHC in a shoot-out and then prevailing against Düsseldorfer HC 2-1 via a stroke two minutes from the end. 

“All our games here were really tough and really close. I am proud of the team, we worked hard and did it all together which was the feeling we wanted to have again. I am happy we showed it here at the right time.

“I do think if we scored earlier in each game, finish our chances, that we would make it easier for ourselves. If we don’t score, it makes it difficult right until the last minute.” 

The success was their 18th European top tier title – and second EHL in three seasons – and was made all the more impressive having seen superstars Marloes Keetels, Lidewij Welten and Margot van Geffen move on last summer.

It took a while to manage those departures but Nunnink says they have improved with every step and are now looking forward to challenge for even more trophies.

“We needed some time at the beginning of the season; it wasn’t our best and we needed to build information to get used to each other, find our new roles and how we would do it best. It’s great that we now have it at the right time and now are really working as a team again.”