Berliner produced a classic smash and grab performance to run out 3-0 winners and dump the Belgians out of the competition, setting up an intriguing tie with Amsterdam in the KO8.
Sport has many clichés attached to it. One is that you must take your chances when you have them, which was proved in this match. Waterloo Ducks totally dominated, creating multiple chances, hitting the woodwork three times and forcing Christopher Stubbe into a man of the match performance in the Berliner goal. On the other hand, the Germans created just a handful of chances and scored three times.
Waterloo could have been 3-0 up inside the first quarter. John-John Dohmen and Maxime Luycx both brought saves out of Stubbe and Quentin Van Lierde could not apply the finishing touch to a Tanguy Cosyns cross. Berliner looked as though they were in for a trying afternoon as Luycx brought another save out of Stubbe this time with a reverse stick shot from the left of the D. For all the pressure, Berliner had the best chance of the quarter as Anton Ebeling seized on a loose ball to race clear with just the goalkeeper to beat. He chipped the ball over the onrushing Vincent Vanash but it bounced agonizingly wide of the post.
Waterloo continued to press and continued to create chances; Ali Brogdon made a full length dive to get to a Gauthier Boccard cross but was unable to get it on target.
Berliner managed to break out and forced a penalty corner. With everyone expecting a Martin Haener drag flick the Olympic Gold Medallist instead teed up Pilt Arnold whose fierce flick struck Gilles Jacob on the line for a penalty stroke. Haener stepped up this time and found the roof of the net to give his side the lead.
The second half started as the rest of the game had: Dohmen hit the post from close range and then scuffed the rebound wide. A costly miss as Berliner promptly exposed a gap in the defence with a long ball finding Jonas Gomoll. He burst into the D on the left and with the angle getting narrower all the time smashed an unstoppable reverse stick shot in off the crossbar leaving Vanash helpless. It was one of the goals of the weekend and had given Berliner a strong hold on the game.
Berliner made it 3-0 from another penalty corner. Haener was unselfish again and slipped the ball to the right for Robert Marx to deflect the ball home to the disbelief of the Waterloo Ducks’ fans.
Cosyns saw a bullet of a penalty corner come back off the bar with Stubbe beaten and then he hit a post, via a touch from the goalkeeper who was up quickly to divert Luycx’s follow up around the post as well. The Berliner goalkeeper was having an inspired afternoon and a degree of fortune too as he repelled Cosyns yet again, this time with a strong right hand down low.
Waterloo continued to press right to the end, although you could see they had accepted it wasn’t to be their day. It had been a superb rear-guard action from the German side, who whilst riding their luck at times, were fully deserving of their win.
“They” always say in sport you should never write off the Germans. Berliner’s ruthless efficiency in front of goal proved that today. I love a good cliché.