England dug deep today as they recorded a gutsy 3-1 victory over Germany in the Argentina World League Final. England star Alex Danson scored twice alongside Sophie Bray to secure the three points and a second place finish in Pool A (Full results here).
Earlier in the day the Netherlands recorded their third consecutive win of the tournament beating Korea 3-1. England will play the team that finishes third in Pool B in their Quarter Final match on Thursday at 2:30 (UK time). The final Pool B matches will be played out tonight.
England Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh received flowers before the match to mark her 200th appearance for England (308th combined England & Great Britain).
Speaking after the game England Head Coach Jason Lee said, “I think it was a very gutsy performance from the girls today and some of the girls who have struggled a bit across the first two games really stepped up their efforts today which was really pleasing for me to see. Germany have had the edge over us this year so it was nice to get our own back a little bit today. ”
The first half was an even affair between the two sides, with few chances being created in the opening stages. Germany broke the deadlock in the 17th minute as Eileen Hoffmann dived in towards goal to redirect a shot past Maddie Hinch. The lead didn’t last long, as in the same minute Hannah Macleod pinched the ball from the German defence and found Alex Danson in the circle, who skilfully found the back of the net with her first touch to make it 1-1. Despite efforts from both sides they remained tied at half-time.
England came out from the break the stronger of the two and were rewarded with a series of penalties corners early on. The third one saw Vogel make the initial save from Kate Richardson-Walsh’s attempt, but Nicola White picked up the rebound and fired a shot back into the danger area which forward Sophie Bray got a reverse stick touch on to make it 2-1.
A scrappy period of play ensued with England coming off worst from the resulting cards. Laura Unsworth, Sally Walton and Helen Richardson-Walsh all received yellow cards over a six minute period, and with Richardson-Walsh and Walton forced to watch from the sidelines at the same time England did well to hold on to the lead.
With the rain lashing down it became a real battle in the closing stages as both sides had chances but couldn’t convert. In the final minute of the game some great determination from Danson saw her seal the victory with a solo effort as she beat two German defenders along the back line and managed to lift the ball over an approaching Vogel in goal to make it 3-1.
Following the game, Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh added her thoughts on the performance and achieving 200 England caps, “It felt like a typical English day out there today, with the rain lashing down and the pitch playing quite slow we really had to work hard for the result. 200 England caps is not something I ever imagined I would achieve when I started playing back in 1999 and to seal it with a win today in a game like that is really special. We always say we never lose on a milestone and I feel really proud to have got the three points.”
When asked about Kate Richardson-Walsh’s achievements, Lee added, “I was the women’s assistant coach when Kate first started playing international hockey back in 1999 and for her to still be playing to such a high standard is exceptionally impressive. She does a great job for hockey in our country and is a great role model for the sport both on and off the pitch.”
Tomorrow is a rest day for the teams as they prepare for their Quarter Final battles on Thursday. Current scheduling means that England will play in the second match at 14:30 (UK time) (Full schedule here). The match will be streamed live on the FIH YouTube Channel