Home win for England at Unibet EuroHockey Championships after dramatic finale
England were crowned champions of Europe after a dramatic shootout win over the Netherlands in the final of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships. After coming from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw, England won the shootout 3-1 thanks in part to the heroics of goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, who saved three times to condemn the Dutch to silver.
Germany collected the bronze medal after a strong performance against Spain. A hat-trick from Charlotte Stapenhorst did the damage.
Scotland maintained their top flight status with a win over Poland, who were relegated to the second tier of European competition along with Italy.
Unibet EuroHockey Championships – Final
ENG v NED 2-2 (3-1 after shoot-out)
England produced an incredible late comeback, surviving a huge and sustained Dutch barrage to land their second EuroHockey Championships with Maddie Hinch producing one of the performances for the ages.
They eventually prevailed in a shoot-out 3-1 coming back from 2-0 down with eight minutes to go in regular time to win in the most dramatic of fashion.
Asked to put the feeling into words, Hinch said: “That’s impossible! Literally, the best, best feeling in the world and God do we deserve it. We’ve had some lows but this has been one hell of a summer and this has been coming. I’m just in a state of shock. I don’t know what to say. It just shows the level of belief in our team at the moment to come from two goals down, to say ‘we’re not giving up on this’ and that’s exactly what we did.”
Caia van Maasakker’s third quarter penalty corner double looked to have won the tie for the Dutch as they eventually broke through a blood and guts English defence. She found her range from the eighth and ninth Dutch penalty corners, finally finding a route past the superb defences of Hinch who kept out 22 shots on target overall.
But England produced a rousing comeback in front of the capacity crowd at Lee Valley with Sophie Bray and Lily Owsley’s corner rebounds in the closing eight minutes, earning their shoot-out chance.
Bronze medal match
GER v ESP 5-1 (4-0)
A hat trick for Germany’s newest superstar Charlotte Stapenhorst was the icing on the cake for Germany in the Unibet EuroHockey Championships bronze medal match. Germany’s hold on the EuroHockey title might have disappeared in the semi-finals, but the team was determined to leave the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre with a medal round their necks and their dismantling of the Spanish team was a study in structure and discipline.
The game was won in the first half as the German team moved the ball at a tremendous pace to create gaps in the hard-working Spanish defence. The first 15 minutes of the game saw a pattern of play emerging that would set the tone for the match. A German defensive platform, mostly involving Janne Muller-Wieland and Nina Hasselmann swung the ball around the back, sapping the energy of the Spain forwards and gradually, inexorably, the ball was moved up the pitch, with the midfield, led by Franzisca Hauke, seeking to release the forwards. In response, Spain sat back and soaked up the pressure, making occasional forays into the German half of the pitch.
Stapenhorst was joined on the scoresheet by Lisa Altenberg and Eileen Hoffmann. Carlota Petchame scored a consolation goal for Spain.
“We played a really good first half with a really consistent way of attacking and pressing, as well as outletting. That was reflected on the score-sheet, which is not always the case with us,” said head coach Jamilon Mulders. “The team’s reaction after the loss to the Netherlands was good and this is a really good finish to the tournament.”
In the earlier games, Belgium beat Italy to finish fifth, while Scotland finished sixth after beating Poland. The results mean Italy and Poland will be playing in the second tier of European hockey in two years time.
Gold – England
Silver – Netherlands
Bronze – Germany
4th – Spain
5th – Belgium
6th – Scotland
7th – Italy
8th – Poland
Player of the Tournament Alex Danson – ENG. The England star reached 50 goals for her country with a hat-trick against Germany and scored an important goal against Spain in the semi-final. The No15 terrorised defences all tournament and earned her award with a series of superb displays.
Goalkeeper of the Tournament Yvonne Frank – GER. Although Germany missed out on the final, there was not much more Yvonne Frank could do to help her side over the line. A string of world class saves against the Netherlands in the semi-final showed the best of the German No1 who had a splendid tournament.
Top goal scorer Caia van Maasakker – NED. Some consolation for the Dutch star, whose two goals in the final couldn’t bring home the title, but they did earn her the top scorer award. A threat from penalty corners, the No13 is feared by defences everywhere.