Hockeyroos fall short in Pro League final
The Hockeyroos have fallen at the final hurdle in their battle to be crowned inaugural FIH Pro League winners, losing to the Netherlands 4-3 on penalties in the final.
Australia's Mariah Williams scored against the run of play in the 19th minute but rival Marijn Veen equalised five minutes later.
Kelly Jonker doubled the Dutch lead in the 49th, only for Kaitlin Nobbs' 58th- minute goal to put the sides at 2-2 and push the match to shots from the spot in sweltering 35C heat in Amstelveen on Saturday.
Williams, Nobbs and Australia teammates Ambrosia Malone converted their penalties, but Maddy Fitzpatrick and Brooke Peris missed.
Marloes Keetels, Xan de Waard, Maria Verschoor, Lauren Stam and Veen stepped up for the Netherlands, with only the latter missing.
Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin said even though Australia missed out on the inaugural Pro League title, the match was valuable experience for the squad.
"Extremely proud of the effort of the girls today in a really tough environment. It was a very competitive match, we had some good chances in the third quarter which was pleasing to see," he said.
"Anyone could have won the shootout ... it is really important to have the opportunity to play in these matches which providesuch great experience for Oceania Cup and the Tokyo Olympics."
The Netherlands dominated the opening period with Rachel Lynch forced into an athletic sixth-minute save.
But the plucky Hockeyroos held on and eventually Williams found the breakthrough with her deft touch of Jodie Kenny's parried shot wrong-footing Dutch goalkeeper Anne Veenendaal in the 19th minute.
Just five minutes later Veen equalised after a quick midfield turnover allowed her to run in and drill her shot past Lynch.
The Dutch starved Australia of possession but the visitors had two good chances with Williams being denied and Grace Stewart only just blocked by Veenendaal from capitalising on a defensive error right in front of the posts.
In the final quarter,the home side had a goal disallowed to amp up the crowd but Jonker turned their mood in the 49th minute by flicking a deflection beyond Lynch's grasp.
But the drama was far from over after a Dutch foul on the goal line with just two minutes left on the clock gifted a penalty to Nobbs, which she cooly slotted home.
With the scores level there was hope Australia could repeat their semi-final heroics when they beat Argentina 4-3 on penalties,but instead the scores were reversed in favour of the Dutch.