In the finals of the Eurohockey Club Champions Cup last weekend at HGC Hockey Club, Den Haag, current Dutch Rabo Hoofdklasse champions Den Bosch took gold, beating England Hockey Premiership Division winners Leicester 4-1.

Leicester's Crista Cullen in action for England, Champions Trophy 2010

Leicester defended solidly after  some  early charges .They survived two  early short corner opportunities from accidental foots in the D ,  the second with the usually reliable Dutch international drag flick queen , Maartje Paumen, hitting the upright.  Leicester gave as good as they got and took the  lead after Crista Cullen buried a penalty short.  This after Den Bosch defender Karin den Ouden had been adjudged to have deliberately used her foot outside the D to deflect the ball when Kerry Williams had made an impressive forward run down the right wing.
Kerry Williams injected , Chloe Rogers trapped and Crista made no mistake hitting it hard and low to the left under the diving keepers body keepers. Leicester knew from the start it was going to be a pressure game and shortly after the break, early in the second quarter,  Den Bosch were awarded another short. This time Paumen made no mistake,  hitting the ball hard top right with Maddie Hinch hardly moving.  Later in the second quarter , Hinch made a great stop denying Paumen a second score from her drag flick short, hit high to her left , palming it down into the D. The ball was quickly  recycled with an attacker coming in from the left, getting in  behind the defence and the ball driven across the goal mouth easily pushed  in by Sabine Mol making it 2-1. Leicester pressed on and didn’t for a moment look over run.

Maartje Paumen, drag flick short corner specialist

Going into the third quarter  Leicester were still very much in it and looking for the equaliser . But with one of their promising charges  in the last twenty five, the ball was intercepted and driven way down the left to Sabine Mol in space. She outran the nearest defender and  moved towards the D. The last defender tried to tackle but missed making contact and Mol got round her  and calmly drove the ball past Hinch. Leicester found it harder to attack Den Bosch’s D but battled on trying to pull it back. But halfway through the fourth, Paumen had yet another short which she  hit it high, again  to Hinch’s right. Maddie got her hand to it but the ball dropped to the ground and trickled in. Despite a valiant try till the last Leicester were unable to press for goal and Den Bosch took the victory, their 12th European title and ironically the 12th time an English side had come runners up in this competition.  HC Den Bosch are now twelve times champions of the Netherlands (1998-2008, 2010), ten times European Cup winner (2000-2009) having  won the first Club Champions Cup in 2010.
Leicester & England ‘s Hannah McCloed
After the match , Leicester Ladies head coach Chris Mayer said his side have plenty to be proud of despite the defeat.  “We were in it to win it but we just didn’t quite make it happen.” Mayer’s side had edged past English rivals Slough 2-0 on penalties in Friday’s semi-final. “We can’t brush the stuff nthat went wrong under the carpet,” he added. “We have to use it as a springboard and have to be able to put right what we did wrong, individually and collectively.”
Crista Cullen, the multi- capped England international said: “It is credit to the girls that we got ourselves 1-0 up but they Den Bosch] are a class act. “We gave them opportunities but we did not take our own. “You have nothing to lose when you are in a final. The worst you can do is a silver medal so you have to go for it. “We were the underdogs, we really did give it our all and I am very proud to play for Leicester.”  “We were the strongest we have ever been but Den Bosch were clinical and for us it was a few of those lady Luck things that didn’t go our way”  “ the score line didn’t really reflect the game”, she continued , “We were very much in contention- it shows how English hockey has come a long way to be in contention with the Dutch league2 More on Crista’s reflections on the game here courtesy of Ollie Rogers BBC Essex / brother of Leicester and England’s Chloe Rogers .
As with Den Bosch, Leicester dominated their national  top league ( Premiership division)  this season and in fact three of the last five seasons) and finished top 2010-2011 but did suffer a setback  when surprised and beaten 3-2 by Reading in the final of the Premier Division play-offs in Cannock. In this year’s premiership they  had a goal difference of 48 over Slough who took on Laren in the semis at HGC and like Den Bosch were only beaten twice in their league games.
Leicester had six 1st team players representing Great Britain and England in the recent World Cup and Commonwealth Games in Delhi 2010 and six Leicester players were in the squad that won bronze in the 2010 WCT.. Currently Leicester  have six players in the England Senior Squad, Den Bosch have three. Paumen is top scorer in the Hoofdklasse this season 46 goals this season for Den Bosch with nearest rival Vera Vorstenbosch 17 and Sabine Mol 9.  Paumen, still only 25 scored in every game in the Beijing Olympics and hold the record as the highest scorer in recent Olympic history.

Maartje Paumen, Madrid Samsung World Cup winner 2006

Her now celebrated powerful drag flick sealed the Samsung World Cup in Madrid 2006. Leicester is of course a relatively small women’s hockey  club , and competing in Europe has put additional strains on finances for what is our smallest premiership club without its own clubhouse or pitches with five senior teams but offering hockey to girls and women from the ages of 7 upwards , Three junior teams. In contrast , Den Bosch has more teams than the number of players in the teams that make up Leicester and a staggering two and half thousand members and with a beautifully appointed all new lakeside hockey complex largely funded by the ‘s-Hertogenbosch municipality supported by an army of volunteers and professional staff. Leicester have a tenancy partnership withLeicester Grammar School and use of their two pitches.

Kerry William's at the World Champions Trophy 2010

Listen to coach Chris Mayers’s summary of the game here
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