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The Olympic-ender Finals

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W9  D2  L2

GF: 37    GA: 18

 

Rio 2016 – Finals

One game.  One team.  One prize.  And it’s the biggest one yet.  But they are now officially the best GB ladies team ever.  Emotional doesn’t even cover it.  The passion, the outpouring disbelief, the stunned sense of achievement that is so hard to comprehend.  But after years of hard work, centralised at Bisham Abbey and funded through Sport England and UK Sport this was the pinnacle of achievement that saw recognition at a global level.

So to the game.

G Hinch PS stopThe first quarter was won by GB.  Holland were awarded a penalty stroke six minutes into the game, but Maddie Hinch didn’t over-commit herself and palmed away the high central shot.  Three minutes later Miss 3D (Sophie Bray) juggled her way into the D and forced a save that Lily Owsley was able to finish on the rebound.  This left it GB 1-0 NL at the break.

Then the Dutch came started to reassert themselves on the game.  This began in the first minute when Holland broke away and van Male took the ball wide in the D onto her reverse to finish in the roof of the net from a tight angle.  As it turns out this was the pretty much the only way to beat Hinch.  Having said that, the GB penalty corner defence was beaten by a hit from the top of the D – unusual in the modern game at this level – as Paumen’s clinical strike put the Netherlands into the lead.  But their celebrations were short lived as Crista Cullen put GB back level just over thirty seconds later to make it 2-2 at half time.

G Dutch score

The third quarter saw more Dutch dominance of possession and they managed to finally beat Hinch again at a short corner by passing the ball around her.  The simplest of routines saw van Male inject and then slot home from a wide angle past the keeper.  And so it was GB 2-3 NL at the final break.

G lacrosse

In the final quarter, GB changed their formation to a much more expansive style.  This was higher risk but stood to push them forwards and, ultimately, helped to create their first penalty corner.  Unsworth’s ball in was blocked but it eventually fell for Nic White to slot home the equaliser with 8.5 minutes remaining.  GB managed to keep NL at bay for the remainder of ordinary time to take the game to shuttles.  Maddie Hinch has a previous record at these.  And a good one – most notably against Holland.

HW winnerGB started the shuttles but were unable to score their first two through H Richardson-Walsh and Danson.  Equally, however, Hinch kept out the Dutch to see both sides score 0 from two.  Next Sombroek upended Bray for a penalty stroke to be awarded.  Helen Richardson-Walsh converted for GB to go one up.  Hinch saved the next only for Unsworth also to be kept out.  When Hinch helped steer the Dutch player wide she put her shot onto the post and Hinch cleared the rebound to leave Holly Webb the chance to win it.  She took the opportunity, lifting the ball into the right side of the net before dropping her stick and bounced into the arms of her team-mates.  They had done it.  They beat them all and were worthy winners of their gold medals.

HW winner 2

It was always possible to improve on London 2012 but few might have imagined that it was quite so successful for the ladies.  Perhaps a medal for the men would have iced that particular cake, but they never looked truly convincing.  The ladies, on the other hand, beat all eight opponents, including all of the top five ranked sides in the world.

Gold Celebration

Elsewhere, Argentina’s men won Gold with a 4-2 win over Silver medallists Belgium.  Germany won Bronze after winning their shoot-out 4-3 (FT: 1-1).  Germany’s ladies won bronze having defeated New Zealand 2-1 in their final game.

To remind you of my thoughts from the last round:  “So we will see a rematch of the European Final which saw England become European Champions last year (on shuttles, no less).  I predict that it will be a close game [never more than a goal in it].  First goal is hugely important [and belonged to GB] and confidence is everything.”

KRW gold emotion

Team of the round?  If I could I would give the team of the round to Maddie Hinch.  She proved to be a one woman wall and just loves shuttles.  But I said before I was saving awarding GB this accolade until it really mattered.  And it really mattered.  It meant the world.  And their new jewellery is demonstration of the fact that they really are the best in the world.

 

GOALS

I’m counting those shuttles in the goal tally.  Just you try scoring one – especially against one of the two best keepers in the world.  In fact shuttles, in my book, are a game in themselves.

The curve never veered off its line of either three or four goals in every game, including shuttles.

GS f

 

CLEAN SHEETS AND HAT-TRICKS

G Hinch thou shalt not passMaddie didn’t keep a clean sheet in the game against the Dutch, but made some very impressive saves to keep GB in it.  However it was a clean sheet in the shuttles which, for normal mortals, is the harder of the two to pull off.  So it counts.  And oh, boy does it count.

 

GOALKEEPING

Maddie finishes with four clean sheets to go with her piece of gold.  And I don’t think she will be remotely disappointed with that!

GK f

 

GOLDEN STICK

And Alex is GB’s top scorer, beating Helen only because her fifth was in the shuttles.  Lily also got four to go ahead of the men.

Scorers final

 

GOLD DUST                    G 27      S 22      B 17      T 66

Sixty-six!  Sixty-blooming-six.  That’s more than in London.  And we’re not done yet.  Well, the main thing is that GB ladies are in the first column.  And that’s them, Olympic Champions for the next four years.  That is, at least the next four years.  I can’t believe the hockey’s over.  But then again is it?  No, of course not.  It all starts again on 3rd September as FEHC start again with Club Day.  Be there.  It’s going to be another big one!

Match Reports

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