Netherlands stun Brazil 32-23
Brazil stunned the competition in the opening round of play when they defeated two-time defending gold medalists Norway. Now, the competition stunned them in the opening game of the quarterfinals.
Brazil came out a little bit nervy and the Netherloonds too advantage, establishing an early 3-1 while the Brazilians were struggling to find their footing. They were also struggling weaving through that Dutch defense, which was positioned very well along the perimeter of the six meter line.
Loss of possession got the Dutch rolling early, countering off two turnovers and a save by Tess Wester – all while Daniela Piedade was serving a two minute suspension. Brazil were having issues finding their rhythmn and couldn’t work the ball on the fast break. The Dutch, meanwhile, seemed to be playing at a much faster tempo.
Estavana Polman and Laura van der Heijden began to bully the Brazilians’ defense as they worked the Brazilians out of position to open the gaps.
Brazil did most of their damage off the wing, going five-for-five in the first half.
The Netherlands gave up four penalty shots in the first half, including the very last goal of the half.
The Dutch kept the pressure on Brazil, widening the lead to four off of another fast break. In a match that featured two high-tempo and momentum-dependant teams, it was the Netherlands that moved it along.
The boisterous Future Arena crowd had little effect on the Netherlands, who remained composed in their positioning and play.
Poor passing by Brazil proved to be their undoing, as they continued to hand the ball over to the Netherlands – who opened up the lead to six goals 15 minutes into the second half.
The nerves were apparent and this team began to quickly unravel – turnovers, missed penalties and suspensions all bogged a team that feeds on pace. Brazil had none.
The wing shots continued to be effective for Brazil, though, and looked to be their best chance of avoiding the upset. Right winger Alexandra do Nascimento’s presence from the wing continued to pose problems for a Dutch defense that was fixated on Ana Paula Belo.
The Netherlands continued to hold onto their lead well into the second half, still wtih the six goal advantage with eight minutes of play remaining.
Nascimento took over for the Brazilians, working the fast breaks and the wing positioning, getting Brazil back to within four. Polman wasn’t going to be outdone, though, as she continued to break through that anxious Brazilian defense.
With 27 minutes gone and Brazil down by five, Wester seemed to have made the game-winning save, shutting down Nascimento’s attempt from the right wing.
The final minute of play was eerily dissimilar to the first, as silence crept into Future Arena as the Brazilians were sent packing.