Hoog comes through for Dutch in field hockey semis again
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Ellen Hoog updated her best memory in field hockey.
At the 2012 London Games, Hoog scored the winning shootout goal for the Netherlands against New Zealand in the semifinals, en route to their second straight Olympic gold medal.
She was even more dramatic on Wednesday, in the semifinals again in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The Dutch and Germany finished regulation at 1-1, and their shootout at 2-2. Hoog had been the first Dutchwoman to miss, her shot stopped by the underside of goalkeeper Kristina Reynolds' right boot.
The shootout went to sudden death, and the tension was so much that Netherlands coach Alyson Annan-Thate was crouching on the turf, barely able to watch. The first shooters from each team scored. Then Joyce Sombroek, the world's best goalie, blocked and saved for the Netherlands, giving Hogg, next up, the chance to be the hero again. She wrong-footed Reynolds, and slammed in a reverse stick shot, just like she did at the London Games. After that, it was a blur.
''I had some doubts because I missed the first one, but I trust in my own shootouts, so I thought, `Well, I'm not going to miss it twice,''' Hoog said. ''But after I scored it, I don't know what was going on. The most feeling I think is relief. Just relief that we won.''
The Netherlands, the biggest force in women's hockey, will play for an unprecedented third straight gold against first-time finalist Britain on Friday.
''Maybe it sounds arrogant,'' Hoog said, ''but we have done it before, so we know how to play finals. But of course it's an Olympic final, and it's always terrible. The nerves are coming already.''
She has a fix for that, the romance movie ''The Notebook,'' which came out the same year, 2004, that she made her senior Dutch debut. Her and roommate Naomi van As watch the movie before a tournament and before a final.
''It's a ritual,'' she said. ''Every time we watch it we become champions.''
She's not half wrong. Hoog has won two Olympic golds, two World Cups, and three European Championships, and was world player of the year in 2014. Expected to retire after the Rio Games with more than 230 appearances and 60 goals, Hoog has already been setting herself up for her next career.
She's modeled for ''Sports Illustrated,'' published a book on fitness, and gives speeches on motivation.
There's no need to motivate for the final.
''We came here for the gold medal,'' she said.