The Netherlands ended England women’s reign as EuroHockey Championships holders, winning 1-0 in a hard fought semi-final in Amsterdam on Thursday evening.
England began well, Susannah Townsend forcing a save from Dutch goalkeeper Anne Veenendaal in the fourth minute.
The Netherlands forced their only penalty corner of the match a minute later with England having Shona McCallin to thank after blocking the resulting shot.
The tension caused by the importance of the match were illustrated in the eleventh minute when Surbiton’s Hollie Webb was lucky not to be sent to the sin-bin after tripping up Frederique Matla with her stick when Matla tried to delay the taking of a free hit.
Then, Lily Owsley saw green after a tackle, temporarily reducing England to ten players for two minutes.
Surbiton’s Emily Defroand and Sarah Haycroft tried to breakdown the Dutch defence, but England suffered a setback five minutes before half time when Townsend was injured after going down on her own.
Soon afterwards, England captain, Alex Danson forced another save from Veenendaal.
Eleven seconds before half time, England forced the first of two penalty corners, the ball entering the Dutch goal from the second award, only for the whistle to be blown first.
Matla threatened for the Dutch in the 36th minute, attacking along the left English backline, only for goalkeeper, Maddie Hinch to save. Although Webb made a turnover in the first half which could have led to a Dutch goal, she made up for the error in the third quarter with a solid defensive performance.
The breakthrough came in the 49th minute, Hinch making an initial save before the ball found Marloes Keetels on the right-centre of the circle, from where she unleashed a shot which rebounded off the backboard, delighting the huge home crowd as Keetels jumped up in celebration.
Hinch was on call two minutes later to make a save by leaping in the air.
With three minutes and two seconds remaining, Hinch was withdrawn as Laura Unsworth was installed as kicking back, but England found it difficult to create chances and the Netherlands successfully kept the ball in the English corners, not allowing England enough time to make a last desperate attempt to equalise.
When the final hooter sounded, the Dutch players celebrated, knowing that they had come out on top in a hard fought battle.
In the final, the Netherlands will play Belgium, who surprised Germany in the first semi-final, Jill Boon scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win. When the Netherlands met Belgium in their pool match, the Dutch also won 1-0.
Surbiton’s Giselle Ansley, Hannah Martin and Webb were all in England’s starting line-up. Sarah Haycroft came on a as a sixth minute substitute, followed by Emily Defroand in the seventh minute and Jo Hunter in the eighth.
England will play Germany for bronze at 4 pm on Saturday, when the Surbiton girls will come up against their Head Coach, Brett Garrard for the second time. Germany won the pool match 1-0, but England will be determined to come back from Amsterdam with bronze medals. Garrard is working as an assistant coach with the German squad for the duration of the tournament before returning to Surbiton.
More information about the tournament can be found at the Match Centre section in the FIH website here
The England Hockey match report can be found here