ENGLAND WOMEN MISS OUT ON EUROS BRONZE AFTER SHOOTOUT
By Colin Pike
England Women missed out on the bronze medals at the Belfius EuroHockey Championships in Antwerp, losing a shootout 3-2 to Spain after a 1-1 draw in normal time.
England bounced back from the 8-0 nightmare semi-final defeat to the Netherlands on Friday, taking the lead in the tenth minute. Sarah Evans made an excellent interception and passed from the right to Hannah Martin who slipped the ball under Spanish goalkeeper Maria Ruiz.
Spain had the chance to equalise from a penalty corner three minutes later, but England goalkeeper Maddie Hinch was equal to Maria Lopez’s effort.
In a cagey second quarter, Hinch was called upon again to push the ball over the crossbar but England led 1-0 at half time.
Amy Tennant replaced Hinch in goal for the third quarter and was beaten in the 36th minute when Maria Tost touched a cross from the right in the circle to bring Spain level, the goal confirmed after an umpire referral. Two minutes later, Giselle Ansley had a drag-flick saved from England’s first penalty corner of the match after Martin was fouled.
Hinch returned for the fourth quarter and was soon needed to make a fantastic double save to prevent Spain taking the lead. Grace Balsdon had a drag-flick saved from England’s second penalty corner and Spain failed to complete a pre-planned penalty corner manoeuvre shortly afterwards when the ball eluded Berta Bonastre at the left post.
The teams could not be separated in normal time, meaning that for the first time in the tournament, a shootout was required.
England went first with Martin slipping the ball past Ruiz’s left, only for Clara Ycart to level by finding the backboard. Anna Toman restored England’s lead with a similar effort to Martin and England’s hopes were given a boost when Hinch saved from Georgina Oliva to preserve England’s 2-1 lead.
Ellie Rayer was brought down by Ruiz and a penalty stroke was awarded. The subsequent Spanish video referral was rejected, but Ansley’s stroke was saved by the other Spanish goalkeeper Melanie Garcia, moving to her left to make a pad save. Parity was restored when Begoña Garcia found the bottom left corner.
Sarah Evans sent her shot just wide of the left post as Beatriz Perez gave Spain the lead with a shot against the backboard.
Great Britain’s Olympic heroine, and England captain Hollie Pearne-Webb had the ball knocked away by Ruiz and the subsequent video referral was rejected to confirm Spain as Bronze medallists.
Martin, Emily Defroand, Ansley and Pearne-Webb were all in the England starting lineup. Izzy Petter came on as a third minute substitute with Jo Hunter and Evans both following in the fifth minute.