England Women’s hopes of coming back from the Gold Coast with Commonwealth Games Gold were cruelly ended by New Zealand, 2-1 winners in a penalty shootout after a goalless draw in normal time.
Alex Danson received her 300th international cap, but England were unable to commemorate the feat with a trip to the final.
Defences were well on top, but England had three chances to take the lead from a penalty corner in the eighth minute, Surbiton’s Hollie Pearne-Webb and Giselle Ansley both having shots blocked by the Black Sticks’ lead runner Samantha Charlton.
A fourth award in the 12th minute saw Laura Unsworth’s effort defended for a restart from the New Zealand 23 metre line.
England have failed to score from their last 23 penalty corner awards after converting 3 of 18 in their first two matches however, they were very unlucky when New Zealand’s defender, Brooke Neal, who had fouled England captain, Danson to give away England’s fifth penalty corner, was strategically positioned at the right post to defend Laura Unsworth’s shot.
England were more fortunate at the end of the third quarter when a video referral appeared to show that New Zealand should have been awarded a penalty corner after the ball appeared to touch Pearne-Webb’s foot, however a long corner was awarded instead.
New Zealand came close to taking the lead early in the fourth quarter, Anita Maclaren having a shot saved and from the rebound, Kelsey Smith’s shot was defended by Ansley from the Black Sticks’ only penalty corner of the match.
With the game seeming to be headed for a shootout in the final minute, New Zealand almost snatched the win with two seconds remaining, England goalkeeper, Maddie Hinch making a stunning save from Stacey Michelsen from open play.
However, destiny had Michelsen as the game winner as New Zealand replaced goalkeeper Sally Rutherford with Grace O’Hanlon for the shootout.
England went first, Danson’s shot rebounding off O’Hanlon’s face grill to safety. Charlton shot wide left of the goal from New Zealand’s first effort.
The second efforts for both teams also failed to score, Sophie Bray’s shot saved and pushed away by O’Hanlon, with Hinch saving Liz Thompson’s shot past the left post.
Surbiton’s Hannah Martin put England ahead, finding the backboard on the right side of the goal. Samantha Harrison levelled immediately for New Zealand.
Anna Toman’s shot was saved by Hanlon past the right post and after Ella Gunson ran out of time after being touched briefly by Hinch, New Zealand’s subsequent video referral asking for a penalty stroke was rejected.
Surbiton’s Hollie Pearne-Webb, GB’s 2016 Olympic heroine, couldn’t quite work her magic, O’Hanlon anticipating that the shot would be made to her left in order to make the save.
This left Michelsen, denied late in normal time with the opportunity to put New Zealand in the final and she made no mistake, quickly rifiling the ball into the top of the goal to break English hearts.
Ansley, Pearne-Webb and Sarah Haycroft were in the England starting lineup with Emily Defroand coming on from the subs bench in the fourth minute, joined by Jo Hunter and Hannah Martin a minute later.
The Daily Schedule with links to information for individual matches can be found at the Commonwealth Games website
The England Hockey Match Report can be found here