Ireland 1-1 Germany
Ireland's Belfius EuroHockey Championships campaign came to an exciting but ultimately disappointing end in Antwerp as a draw with fifth-ranked Germany was ultimately not enough to progress to the semi-finals.
Last year's World Cup runners-up were a goal down inside the opening 10 minutes but battled back to claim a credible draw.
Germany started the stronger of the two sides and took the lead eight minutes into the opening quarter with a shot from Pia Maertens finding the back of the net.
However, Ireland recovered well from that early set-back and their pressing game began to yield opportunities as they forced the Germans into making mistakes.
Ireland drew level in the final minute of the opening quarter when a penalty corner rebounded off German goalkeeper Julia Sonntag and Katie Mullan had the presence of mind to pass to the better placed Sarah Hawkshaw who fired home.
Germany ramped up the pressure in the second quarter, with Hannah Gablac pulling the strings, but Ireland’s defence remained strong.
A penalty corner to Germany saw Rebecca Grote flick for the goal but Ayeisha McFerran got her pad to it, making a fine reaction save to keep the score level.
McFerran was a by-stander minutes later when she stepped out of position to cover the angles, with Elisa Grave placing herself at the far post, but when the ball came to the German, her attempt from inches out hit the post.
Ireland had chances of their own leading up to half-time. Gillian Pinder had a shot saved by Sonntag, with Deirdre Duke sending the rebound wide.
Germany pressure continued in the third quarter but Ireland were resolute in defence.
McFerran was again called into action as Grote managed to take a shot from a German penalty corner. Meanwhile, her counterpart Sonntag continued to prevent Ireland taking a lead, with shots from Daly and two penalty corners for Ireland both well saved.
Knowing that only a win would do, Ireland pressed for a second goal in the final quarter but they were unable to find a way past the impressive Sonntag. Substitute Nicci Daly found herself in the circle with the goal at her mercy, but the German goalkeeper produced a fine save to deny her.
Ireland's focus on attack began to leave gaps at the back and Germany thought they had taken the lead shortly afterwards, entering the Irish circle and forcing McFerran out to defend. The ball crossed the line, however, the video umpire was called upon, making the tension in the stadium palpable.
No goal was given, with the video umpire stating the whistle had blown before the ball crossed the line.
Germany went on to secure a string of penalty corners shortly after, ending in them being granted a penalty shot. Nike Lorenz stepped up to take it but McFerran saved it comfortably.
With three minutes to go Ireland hauled off McFerran to increase outfield numbers, and the extra player helped to create an opening. Katie Mullan went on a mazey run into the German half, passing to Evans who found O'Flanagan, but again Sonntag was on the mark and she prevented another goal forcing the ball wide.
German player Lorenz then received a yellow card, bringing Germany down to 10 players, however, they managed to hang on without conceding a goal, with the final hooter signalling a 1-1 full time score.
Speaking after the match, Ireland head coach Sean Dancer said: "Obviously it's very disappointing for us to lose a must-win game, but for me that was a good scenario – a quarter-final situation.
"All credit to the girls, we got a draw, but unfortunately we needed a win and weren’t quite good enough."
Ireland will now move to Pool C to play the third place finisher of Pool A who have yet to be decided. The match will take place at 2:45pm Irish time on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Irish men’s squad will face off against England tomorrow afternoon at 2:45pm.
Ireland: A McFerran, K Mullan, S McCay, E Tice, B Barr, C Watkins, L Colvin, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke
Subs: R Upton, N Evans, G Pinder, N Daly, H Matthews, E Murphy, A Meeke
Germany:A Wortmann, N Lorenz, S Oruz, H Gablac, A Schroder, E Grave, J Muller-Wieland, J Sonntag, P Maertens, V Huse, H Granitzki,
Subs:K Horn, L Micheel, N Kubalski, S Zimmermann, F Hauke, C Pieper, R Grote