On the final day of the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships, Germany won the title of European Champions title by defeating England and the Netherlands defeated hosts Belgium to take bronze medal. In the 5th-8th place play-off pool, Spain and Scotland defeated Belarus and Ireland respectively to stay in 2015 edition, while two latter teams will miss out the next edition of EuroHockey Championship.
The 2013 EuroHockey Final between Germany and England was one that will go down in history. The first half saw seven goals in exhilarating end to end hockey. As the sides went in at half-time England trailed by one goal, but they found the equaliser with just four minutes to go. With four goals apiece at the end of full-time it went to a penalty shoot-out to decide the champions. After their shoot-out victory against the Netherlands on Thursday night there were high hopes for England, but Germany had other ideas and after scoring two from four and England failing to convert any of their chances the game was lost. It was a fantastic performance from England however and ranks as their best finish in a European Championship since 1991.
It was a rollercoaster of a first half which saw Georgie Twigg, Kate Walsh and Helen Richardson all register on the score sheet. Surbiton’s Georgie Twigg got England off to a dream start when she converted a Kate Walsh Penalty Corner inside three minutes of play. But the lead didn’t last long, almost immediately Germany equalised through another penalty corner and England lost their video referral after appealing the umpire’s decision.
By the 8th minute there was another goal and England took the lead back from a trademark Kate Walsh penalty corner. At 1-2 the game was already turning into a bit of a spectacle and Germany were pushing hard to find the equaliser. In fact, they found both an equaliser and another, both came from Tina Bachmann who firstly fired home from a penalty corner and then a penalty stroke, both of which were dispatched with brilliant accuracy to take the score to 3-2.
All this had happened inside the first 22 minutes, and there were still two more goals to come from what was an exhilarating first-half. England drew back level to 3-3 thanks to Reading’s Helen Richardson, who capitalised on a rare mistake in the German defence. After picking up the loose pass she drove into the circle and expertly drilled home a reverse stick shot past Kim Platten in Germany’s goal. It seemed the sides would go in as they came out, with nothing to separate them, but in a cruel blow to England, Germany won a penalty corner in the final minute of the half which Hannah Kruger converted to give them a slender 4-3 lead.
Supporters in the stadium and fans at home just about had time to catch their breath before the sides came out for the second half, which proved to be a little quieter on the goal front. England searched hard for an equaliser, but Germany’s defence proved too strong for much of the half. With about 10 minutes left on the clock England enjoyed a period of sustained pressure and they were rewarded in the 66th minute with a crucial equaliser. Great play from Alex Danson and Lily Owsley led to Reading’s Susie Gilbert getting her stick to the ball to deflect the shot home. At full-time the scores were level at 4-4 so a penalty shoot-out followed.
England lined up with the same players as against the Netherlands; Kate Walsh, Alex Danson, Laura Unsworth, Georgie Twigg and Helen Richardson, in that order, prepped for their shuffles, with Maddie Hinch in England’s goal. Unlike Thursday night however, this one didn’t go to plan as England were unable to convert their chances. Walsh, Danson, Unsworth and Twigg all saw their efforts saved and with Stockel and Teschke scoring for Germany the game was over. The final scored finished 4-4 and 2-0 to Germany in the shoot out delivering them the gold.
Holcombe’s Maddie Hinch was named as goalkeeper of the tournament following some world class performances throughout the week, which included helping England to beat the Netherlands in their semi-final match.
Speaking after the game England Head Coach Jason Lee said, “Well it was a brilliant game and I felt very privileged to be there with the girls. I don’t think I could have asked for more. It was a great day and it’s been a great tournament and actually as a coach I feel quite optimistic as I know there’s lots of room for improvement for us as a team. I feel very upbeat about the future and what this squad can do.”
England Captain Kate Walsh added her thoughts, “Congratulations to the German team, we knew it was going to be a close game, after it being so tight in the pool, and over the last few years we’ve had a lot of close encounters. There are not normally that many goals in finals, but it was an open game with both teams really going for it so I hope it made it very entertaining for the everyone to watch. We stuck at it and got the draw and I think we felt confident going into the shuffles, but it just didn’t go our way today.”
England youngster Hollie Webb was clearly disappointed with the result, but added “That’s just a sign of how determined we are as a squad, and I know that there’s so much more to come looking ahead. Yes I am gutted today, but I know when I look back on this tournament in a few weeks time, it will sink in how important it’s been. We’re just going to get better and better.”