England Women will face either the Netherlands or Korea for the bronze medals at the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League in Auckland on Sunday morning at 5 am (GMT) after falling to a late goal against New Zealand on Friday night.
In front of a packed crowd, the Black Sticks won 1-0 thanks to Olivia Merry’s penalty corner with just five minutes remaining.
England produced another excellent defensive performance as New Zealand just had the majority of possession but struggled at times in England’s 23, making unforced errors.
New Zealand put England under early pressure forcing a penalty corner in the second minute after having a video referral upheld. England survived and the first quarter was goalless in spite of both teams playing entertaining end to end hockey.
Lily Owsley put the ball into the New Zealand goal in the 17th minute, but a video referral showed that she had used the back of the stick to control the ball whilst rotating into scoring position, so the strike was ruled out.
Surbiton’s Sarah Haycroft shot wide of the right post late in the first half.
Three minutes from the end of the third quarter, former Surbiton player Sophie Bray also came close, Owsley and Alex Danson combining to pass the ball to Bray who struck the crossbar with a shot from a high stick.
England’s penalty corner woes continued as they forced two successive corners shortly afterwards Surbiton’s Giselle Ansley thwarted on both occasions.
In the final quarter, both teams looked for the goal which would win the semi-final and it was New Zealand who struck, Merry’s shot ending up in the netting above the backboard to give the Black Sticks one foot in the final.
With 157 seconds remaining, England took off goalkeeper, Maddie Hinch who once again had made some excellent saves and installed Laura Unsworth as a kicking back.
In the final minute Anna Toman had a shot saved by New Zealand goalkeeper, Sally Rutherford and after England were awarded a penalty corner, New Zealand once again made sensible use of their video referral to win a free hit and run out the remaining seconds.
New Zealand are peaking at the right time after losing all three pool games and having beaten Argentina in the quarter-finals.
Surbiton’s Ansley, Hannah Martin and Hollie Pearne-Webb were all in England’s starting line-up with Haycroft coming on as a fifth minute substitute and Emily Defroand following a minute later.
More information about the tournament can be found at the event page at the FIH website here
The England Hockey match report can be found here