The Burras came from behind twice to take the European Junior Champions, Belgium, to a shoot-out before winning 3-2. The Queensland stopper thwarted his Belgian opponents on three occasions in the shoot-out, culminating in holding up Dimitri Cuvelier to run out the attacker’s eight second shot clock and secure victory.
National Junior Coach Paul Gaudoin said afterwards, “We started slowly, sluggishly, and our first half was not good. We lacked the energy and sharpness we needed but we turned it around in the second half. At half time we spoke about a few of the things we needed to do and we came out with the energy we needed – we were all over them in the second half.”
Paying tribute to his goalkeeper, Gaudoin added, “Credit to Butters [Andrew Butturini] in the one-on-ones – he pulled off some good saves.”
Having soaked up much of the early pressure the Burras fell behind in the 25th minute to Maxime Plennevaux’s close range conversion after Butturini’s initial save. Aussie skipper Daniel Beale equalised just four minutes into the second period with a goal at the back post but the Belgians were soon ahead again, this time through Andre van Linthoudt whose upright shot on the reverse deceived substitute goalkeeper Ed Chittleborough before hitting the backboard.
But the Burras rallied; Cameron Joyce’s penalty corner was saved by the Belgian goalkeeper but not cleared to safety and Northern Territory’s Jeremy Hayward lashed home to equalise for 2-2 with 24 minutes still remaining.
Australia looked to have taken the lead moments later but Belgium’s appeal to the video umpire, citing Justin Douglas’ high control as illegal, was upheld and it remained 2-2, much to the disappointment of the Burras.
Late on, Aaron Kershaw saw two penalty corners charged down by the fast-running Belgian defence while at the other end Ed Chittleborough pulled off a good save with his left glove to deny Gaetan Perez. A last minute Australian penalty corner failed to separate the sides and the match went to a shoot-out.
Tied at 1-1 after one shot each Cameron Joyce saw his effort roll past the post but Australian goalkeeper Andrew Butturini, recalled for the shoot-out, saved well from Maxime Capelle. Dylan Wotherspoon and Matthew Dawson both then converted for Australia while Butturini saved again from Arthur van Doren and after four attempts each it was 3-2. From the Burras’ fifth attempt Jeremy Hayward saw his effort miss the goal but, in dramatic circumstances, Dimitri Cuvelier ran out of time before his shot crossed the line, sparking scenes of celebration amongst the Australians.
Reflecting at the end of the tournament, Gaudoin said, “Some of these players have really developed throughout the tournament and have played better the further on we have gone. We lost one match by one goal [the quarter-final against Germany] and that’s what’s disappointing [about Australia’s final position]. We played fifth versus sixth against another side, Belgium, who are better than that position would indicate.”