Two goals in two minutes in the third quarter condemned Great Britain to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the USA in the women’s Hockey Champions Trophy. A 39th minute strike from Emily Wold, swiftly followed by Kathleen Sharkey’s penalty corner goal handed the Stars and Stripes their first win of the competition and left Danny Kerry’s side rooted to the foot of the table.
The first quarter was played at a ferocious pace. Great Britain started with real attacking intent and won the first penalty corner of the match. Giselle Ansley’s strike was charged down by the runner with a re-award the outcome. Ansley drag flicked the next corner but was thwarted by a good diving save by Jackie Briggs. Both sides battled for control of the midfield and it wasn’t until late on in the half that the USA threatened. They won a penalty corner which Rachel Dawson fed in for a deflection but GB defended stoutly to see it off. The USA won another penalty corner in the dying embers of the opening period. Michelle Vitesse hit the ball in off the bar but it was too high for the first shot and no goal was given.
The second quarter was one that Great Britain dominated. A good run from Alex Danson caused havoc in the USA defence but Briggs was on hand to block. Georgie Twigg called the goalkeeper into action again moments later as Danny Kerry’s side ramped up the pressure. They were a whisker away from the opener when Danson beat two defenders and smashed a shot just wide of the far post. Lily Owsley went even closer just before the end of the quarter. Her mesmerising skills worked an opening allowing her to get a shot away. Briggs got a block on it but as it looped towards goal she was helped out by Caitlin van Sickle who cleared off the line.
USA almost had the lead early in the second half. Maddie Hinch made a stunning save and scrambled the ball away from danger. From the resultant penalty corner USA worked a slip move but Hannah Macleod read it and made a splendid block. Danson started to look threatening again, breaking along the baseline well but Briggs met her head on and kept her out. With six minutes to go till the end of the quarter, the USA took the lead. Michelle Vitesse broke into the circle and although she was halted by Hinch, the ball popped up and was forced in by Wold from close range. Things went from bad to worse just two minutes later. Dawson’s penalty corner was deflected in by Sharkey to make it 2-0.
The hosts threw everything they had at the USA in the final quarter as they searched for a way back into the game. Sophie Bray’s mazy run caused the US defence havoc but she could not find the finish. Owsley hit a snap shot on the turn which was blocked by Briggs and then Ansley and Helen Richardson-Walsh were both left frustrated from consecutive penalty corners. Danson stung the goalkeeper’s pads with a fierce shot in a frantic final few minutes before Sam Quek brought another good stop from Briggs off a penalty corner. Despite Great Britain’s final quarter barrage, there was to be no way through and the USA took the win.
The defeat leaves Great Britain requiring a win over Australia on Saturday by three clear goals to make the bronze medal match. The final on Sunday will be contested by Netherlands and Argentina after both picked up wins today over Australia and New Zealand, respectively.
Tickets for the finals are still available and can be found on the Great Britain website.
Lily Owsley told Great Britain Hockey afterwards: “The first thing to say is we’re focusing on sticking together as a team. We believe this has no reflection on how we will do at Rio. It’s important to keep believing and keep doing what we do and it’ll come together at the right time.”
“Everything’s there it’s just not quite happening. It’s not clicking. It’s not anything we need to worry about it’s just that things aren’t going our way. A few cards, shots, chances not quite falling for us but these things happen in sport. We need to put them right and step up.”
“Everyone in the team has gone through worse and experienced tough times and we know how to deal with them and how to overcome them. We will lift each other and it’s important that we do that.”
“We’ve played Australia six times already this year so we know each other well. It’ll be tactical and physical but it’ll come down to fitness and preparation and we believe we can do it. It’s tough but if we come together we can do it.”
Starting XI vs. USA
|Laura Unsworth||East Grinstead|
|Hannah Macleod||St Albans|
|Sophie Bray||East Grinstead|
University of Birmingham
|DID NOT PLAY
|Crista Cullen||No Club|
Report courtesy of England & GB Hockey