Harvestehuder THC came from behind to snatch a dramatic late win, reaching the Euro Hockey League final in their debut season. Racing Club de Bruxelles had raced into a two-goal lead courtesy of a brace from Jonathan Beckers but goals from Tobias Hauke, Xaver Hasun and Michael Korper brought the Germans back from the dead to pull off a famous comeback.
Harvestehuder made a strong start to the game with Johan Bjorkman a threat early on but it was Racing struck the first blow. They forced penalty corners after six minutes and from the second of these they took the lead. The injection went slightly wide but Beckers took the ball to the right, avoiding the runner before hitting a splendid strike inside the far corner to make it 1-0.
Jeremy Gucasoff had to be alert in the Racing goal to see off Korper’s cross with Nicolas Spooner sliding in for a touch and then the goalkeeper could only watch as Hauke’s pass was deflected just wide by Tim Linsmeier.
Four minutes into the second quarter the German side forced their first penalty corner. The ball was mistrapped but played back in towards Richie Dawson-Smith. The English star got a reverse stick shot in but the goalkeeper did well to make the block. Harvestehuder seemed to be on top but another fine defensive display from Racing was keeping them at arm’s length. On the stroke of half time, Racing struck again. Beckers was again the scorer, firing a fierce drag flick past the goalkeeper and into the roof of the net.
Just after the break Anton Pohling had a great chance to pull one back. The ball somehow found its way to him right in front of Gucasoff but he could only manage to stab it wide.
Racing forced a series of penalty corners, but the Germans defended them superbly, charging three down and doing enough to put Jerome Truyens off as he attempted to deflect in. With the last play of the third quarter came a pivotal moment in the match. Dawson-Smith’s penalty corner was charged down, but Harvestehuder managed to keep the ball alive. It was teed up for Hauke who fired past Gucassoff as he fell to hand his side a lifeline. Racing asked for a referral, claiming a foul on the goalkeeper but nothing was given and the goal stood.
Two minutes into the final quarter it was all square. Hauke fired a great ball into the D finding Hasun, he kept his composure to get a shot in from the right of the D which somehow squeezed past the goalkeeper who appeared to be unsighted.
Hauke continued to impose himself on the game, playing almost like a quarter back, picking the ball up and spraying passes out from the middle to both flanks causing Racing plenty of problems.
With six minutes remaining Harvestehuder scored what proved to the winner. Benjamin Stanzl showed excellent skill to get away from two defenders outside the D. His pass found Spooner and although his ball across was blocked by a defender it broke to Korper who shot home on the turn to spark jubilant scenes. Racing took off their goalkeeper as a last throw of the dice but the Germans held firm to pick up the win and reach the final.
A delighted Dawson-Smith told The Top of the D: “It was a pretty nervy game for us. We conceded early which didn’t help us but we were always confident we’d score. We just had to keep playing and we knew we’d get one. It took a bit longer than we’d expected but it came eventually. It was getting to the stage where, if we hadn’t got a goal soon then it would have been panic stations but when it went in the momentum shifted and it gave us confidence to keep going and get the win.”
Harvestehuder are enjoying a stunning debut season in the competition and will now await the winners of KHC Dragons and MHC Oranje Zwart. Insert cliche about not writing off the Germans, here.