Despite a valiant performance, Great Britain’s women agonisingly missed out on a place in the London 2012 Olympics hockey final as they went down to a 2-1 defeat against Argentina at the Riverbank Arena tonight.
First half strikes from Noel Barrioneuvo and Carla Rebecchi were enough to send the world’s number two side into the final, while Great Britain’s consolation goal came from forward Alex Danson.
Great Britain still have a chance to claim a medal when they play New Zealand in the Bronze Medal match on Friday afternoon. Argentina’s reward is a Gold Medal match-up against the Netherlands that evening.
Speaking after the game, Great Britain Head Coach Danny Kerry said, “I’m very proud of what we did tonight. I felt we were definitely, in the second half at least, the dominant side. I thought Argentina offered little other than a bit of a dribble and we pretty much outplayed them.”
“The reason for not winning was the half chances; not converting the opportunity. But I couldn’t ask for any more from the girls. They executed superbly on what we were trying to do and I felt that Argentina were really just defending, not offering much other than that but they did that well. I’ve just an overwhelming sense of pride in how well the girls played and bitter, bitter disappointment that we haven’t come out on the right end of the result.”
Argentina made the perfect start in the sixth minute when captain Luciana Aymer played the ball off Clifton’s Georgie Twigg inside the circle to win their first penalty corner of the game. Defender Noel Barrionuevo made no mistake from the set-piece opportunity when her powerful drag-flick beat the unsighted Great Britain and Reading goalkeeper Beth Storry to open the scoring and give Argentina a 1-0 lead.
With chances few and far between for both sides, Great Britain fostered their first chance of the game in the 30th minute when Slough’s Ashleigh Ball found Reading’s Alex Danson in the circle. Despite the unwanted attention of an Argentinian defender, the 26 year-old forward managed to swivel and produce a marvellous snapshot that only just evaded the outside of the post.
However, Great Britain’s defence was caught out shortly afterwards when Argentina extended their lead in the 31st minute. Aymer stole a march down the left hand flank and found Carla Rebecchi in space in a dangerous attacking position. The Argentinian forward beat the advances of Loughborough Students’ Laura Unsworth and found herself one-on-one with the advancing Storry. With a sharp sidestep and exquisite stick-work, Rebecchi manoeuvred around the 34 year old’s dive, dragging the ball back from the baseline to guide it into the open goal. Great Britain’s players were eager to make a referral to the video umpire but the moment had passed and Argentina were awarded their second goal of the game
With Argentina leading 2-0 at the half-time interval, Great Britain Head Coach Danny Kerry would have had some words of motivation to deliver to his side as they looked to get back into the game in the second half.
Great Britain almost got their way shortly after the break when Barrioneuvo conceded a penalty corner in the 37th minute. Unfortunately, Leicester’s Crista Cullen saw her shot on target blocked and cleared away from the danger-zone.
However, opportunities were starting to appear for Great Britain and in the 40th minute, Ball saw her shot from just inside the left hand side of the circle skew wide of the target. Two minutes later, an Unsworth cross from the right hand side reached Danson, but her shot didn’t have enough power to trouble Argentina goalkeeper Laura del Colle.
Reading’s Helen Richardson then had one of Great Britain’s best opportunities to get on the score-sheet when the ball fell to the midfielder at the back post in the 55th minute. However, her shot was scuffed into the turf and drifted harmlessly wide of del Colle’s goal.
Richardson made amends for the missed chance in the 64th minute when her cross into the corridor of uncertainly was turned home by Danson’s reverse stick to pull a goal back for Great Britain at 1-2.
With the crowd fervently cheering on Great Britain to snatch an equaliser, it was unfortunately just out of reach for Kerry’s side as Argentina repelled the home nation’s final attempts to force the game into extra time.
Speaking after the game, Great Britain Captain Kate Walsh said, “I’m so proud of these girls. We will give absolutely everything in the final match to try to win that medal. We are not going home empty handed. We’ve fought too hard, given too much. We’ve been in this position many times before as England and Scotland and Wales and now as GB and we will fight for that bronze medal. The British public and that crowd have been outstanding. We couldn’t ask for any more from them and we want it again for the bronze medal game.”
“For us, as a legacy of this Games all we want is to get girls out there, playing hockey. There’s a massive drop off in girls who leave school and we want them going to clubs, going to Rush Hockey, playing indoor hockey. We’ve got this massive hockey family and it’s so welcoming, so inclusive of everybody. That’s what we want to get out of this – people watching hockey, playing hockey, enjoying hockey.”
With the final score 2-1 to Argentina, Great Britain now progress to the Bronze Medal match on Friday 10 August (15.30) when there will be plenty to cheer as they take on New Zealand at the Riverbank Arena.
Meanwhile, Great Britain men will be looking to reach their first Olympic final since the glory of 1988 when they face the Netherlands tomorrow night (20.00) at the Riverbank Arena.
ARGENTINA 2-1 (HT:2-0) GREAT BRITAIN
Argentina Goal Scorers: Noel Barrionuevo 6’ (PC), Carla Rebecchi 31’ (F)
Great Britain Goal Scorer: Alex Danson 64’ (F)
Great Britain Hockey Press Release