Euro Hockey League KO8: MHC Oranje Zwart 0-0 RC Polo de Barcelona. (3-1 after shootout.)

Mark Jenniskens emerged as MHC Oranje Zwart’s man of the moment as his three saves in the shootout got the hosts into the Final Four after a tense encounter with RC Polo de Barcelona. The sides played out a 0-0 draw over the 70 minutes and despite Polo’s Oriol Fabregas saving twice himself in the shootout the Dutch goalkeeper’s intervention turned out to be the decisive one. 

Despite the lack of goals there was no little entertainment in the match as both sides had their share of chances. Manel Terraza was first to test out Jenniskens with a nice run in from the left but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper who stood firm and kept it out. Mink van der Weerden had the best chance of the opening quarter for OZ but his fierce penalty corner was turned over the bar by Fabregas who did well to get a strong hand to the ball.

Terraza was kept out again in the second quarter by Jenniskens who then dashed from his line moments later to clean out the ball, and David Alegre who threatened along the baseline. The hosts had their share of chances too but Fabregas was matching the efforts of his opposite number denying Jelle Galema and Thomas Briels who both used fine individual skills to break into the D only to meet the stubborn resistance of the Polo No24.

With the game still scoreless going into the second half both sides became more and more frantic in their search for the winner. The mood and noise from the crowd seemed to spread to the players who turned the ball over more and more as the clock ticked down taking greater risks to try and find the winning goal. Xavi Leonart had his chances from two penalty corners but one was charged down whilst Jenniskens blocked the other one. Oranje threw everything at their opponents with Van Der Weerden marauding forwards at every opportunity down the right but there was simply no way through for either side. With the first 0-0 draw of the week in the bag it was off to a shootout.

Gabriel Dabanch went first for OZ but he was brilliantly kept out by Fabregas who tracked him to the left before diving to block the reverse stick attempt. Roger Padros missed, too, running too close to Jenniskens who swept the ball clear with his stick. Rizwan Muhammed was also denied by the Polo goalkeeper who seemed to have been beaten, only to produce a heroic last-ditch save near the baseline. David Alegre then scored but was cancelled out by Galema’s clinical reverse stick strike. Xavi Leonart was then denied by Jenniskens  and Sander Baart made it 2-1 to OZ with the next effort. With the pressure on Matias Ray shot early from the top of the D but Jenniskens got down to block and the rebound was drilled over the bar leaving Bob de Voogd the chance to win it, which he duly did with a cool finish.

To the delight of the home crowd, the Dutch champions set up a semi final tie with KHC Dragons. They had been pushed all the way but thanks to their goalkeeper, the Netherlands still has a team in the competition.

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