Ireland were unable to summon the victory required to reach the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup and must now regroup for the ladder matches which begin next Sunday in Amsterdam.
Going into the tie, Ireland needed a three-goal win to secure a place in the knockout stages while anything other than a win would send them into the playoffs 9th-16th.
And while they put on a performance full of hard work and fighting, Germany’s precision provided first-half goals from Nike Lorenz and a close-range kill from Charlotte Stapenhorst. Sonja Zimmerman completed the victory on a penalty kick in the 57th minute.
“The score doesn’t really tell the story of the game,” captain Katie Mullan said after the game. “We really threw it all against Germany today but we had to be a bit more clinical and take our chances and that’s all over the line of attack.
“We have shown a lot of character in the last 24 hours [since the defeat to Chile]. We turned it around and showed a lot more hockey than we love to play. In hockey tournaments you have to execute those moments of pressure and we know from 2018 and today we haven’t done that the way we needed to. In a spirited start, Mullan’s solid run caused Germany a lot of discomfort and a fine pass from Deirdre Duke gave him a great shot opportunity. She cracked towards the goal but Nathalie Kubalski calmly pushed her away.
Germany, meanwhile, worked the ball through their star Nike Lorenz turn which pulled the strings for Elisa Gräve for first a dangerous shot which Ayeisha McFerran blocked.
Lorenz was once again the creator of Charlotte Stapenhorst’s strong chance, with McFerran once again securing a crucial buffer on it.
And the world number four team took the lead in the 23rd minute with a smart switch to the left where Lorenz was on hand to cross the net and find the net.
Green Army quickly stepped up, Katie McKee and Michelle Carey both shooting on goal before the main break and they continued their momentum in the second half, earning their first penalty corner after the restart.
Mullan’s through ball was inches away from getting the perfect connection from Naomi Carroll, but they were rocked once more in the 35th minute. Kira Horn’s run put Ireland on the back foot and while Sarah McAuley got a vital intervention, Stapenhorst pounced on the loose ball to sweep into the net.
Needing a huge comeback, they continued to make inroads with Mullan’s pass just avoiding a finishing touch from Naomi Carroll. And Sean Dancer threw caution to the wind in the final quarter, trading goaltender Ayeisha McFerran for an extra outfielder.
This led to Zara Malseed pulling off Kubalski’s best save of the day, diving full length to fend off the shot at the turn.
They bravely fended off two penalty corners with no goalkeeper recognised, but Germany finally got another when Sonja Zimmerman netted a penalty kick after Sarah McAuley blocked a shot on the empty goal with her body.
Lorenz had another shot chance with 20 seconds left but McFerran produced a magnificent low save to limit the damage to three.
Reflecting on missing out on a playoff berth, coach Sean Dancer said it was a steep learning curve for this team with four players uncapped before the event and only five with experience in 2018.
“We knew going into the tournament that it’s a new and young group. We’re definitely going to have ups and downs and we have to improve. When we take stock of the tournament, we’ll have to learn a lot of lessons from the game. , but last night was not the time to do so.
“We bounced back and got into a good space to compete today. Sometimes that’s not always the case in a tournament where you didn’t win the game you should have won.
“We knew it was a game we had to win and everything else would take us out. That was the mindset; we were looking for leather to get something out of it. I was proud of how we played today; we are making real progress. That means Ireland will now play their next game on Sunday with the opponent to be confirmed on Saturday in Amsterdam and Mullan says there is still something at stake.
“We didn’t want things to go like this, but the difference between this one and the last World Cup is that there is still something very important to play for and I really still believe in this group and it there’s a lot more to show. It’s important that we come out in the next two [classification] games and show it.
A McFerran, R Upton, L Tice, E Curran, H McLoughlin, M Carey, C Perdue, S Hawkshaw, K Mullan, N Carroll, D Duke Subs: S McAuley, Z Malseed, S Torrans, C Beggs, K McKee, C Hamill, L Murphy.
N Kubalski, K Horn, A Wortmann, N Lorenz, A Schröder, L Michell, C Stapenhorst, S Zimmermann, C Pieper, V Huse, H Granitzki Subs: S Oruz, E Gräve, P Heinz, P Maertens, L Weidemann, B Wenzel, J. Sonntag.
M Giddens (USA), A Rostron (RSA).