In the most dramatic of circumstances the Australian women’s hockey team, the Hockeyroos, won a third consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal on Saturday as they struck late to overhaul a determined England team in a shoot-out. While New Zealand Women’s Hockey team beat South Africa 5-2 to win Bronze medal at Glasgow 2014.
In the Gold Medal match, trailing 1-0 with 18 seconds remaining, defender Jodie Kenny showed her cool as slotted home a late, late equaliser from a penalty corner rebound to force the shoot-out.
Lily Owsley had earlier put England ahead against the run of play but Kenny’s leveller brought the tournament to a nail biting conclusion with captain Madonna Blyth stepping up to score the winning goal in the shoot-out.
On the night, Australia had heroines across the park with Casey Eastham and Georgie Parker also finding the target in the shoot-out while goalkeeper Rachael Lynch demonstrated her pedigree saving from England’s Susie Gilbert and forcing Nicola White wide.
The World Cup silver medallists finished the tournament having scored 33 goals in their six matches while conceding just two and national coach Adam Commens spoke afterwards of his pride.
“I’m just very proud of the team and what they’ve done this tournament; we were the best team and we deserved the gold medal. It’s a very, very pleasing result. Our girls stuck to the process throughout the match. They executed the game plan well, they created a lot of opportunities – they were just unable to score. I thought that England defended very well. They were very tough and dogged as we expected and it was a fantastic match,” he said.
England’s doggedness looked as if it would pay off when Owsley chipped the ball over the advancing Rachael Lynch just before the midway point of the second half after winning possession deep inside the Australian circle. The goal came against the run of play with the Australian women dominating possession and chances, creating 11 shots on goal to England’s two, but England stood firm.
As in Friday’s semi-final, Australia competed with just 15 players as Kate Jenner sat out the match with a shoulder injury. The early stages saw both sides struggling to find a rhythm as they adapted to the atmosphere and the rain-heavy pitch. Lynch kicked clear an early English attack spearheaded by Lucy Wood. At the other end, Kellie White had the best chance of the half on the quarter hour mark but could only watch as her flick went wide after she had collected a rebound off England goalkeeper Maddie Hinch.
Late in the half, Australia believed they had a shout for a penalty corner after the ball appeared to strike the upper body of opposition captain Kate Richardson-Walsh in front of goal but Georgie Parker’s appeal to the video umpire was rejected. Five minutes later they were awarded a set-piece but Kenny’s low flick went wide of the right post.
Owsley’s goal marked the first time that Australia had fallen behind in the tournament and the team in green and gold simply pressed harder in response.
There was a let-off for England when a long pass rebounded off the post and Hinch scrambled clear before an Australian forward could pounce. Soon after, Parker’s reverse stick strike was deflected over the top as the match entered its final ten minutes.
Hinch kicked clear as England clung on to their lead but with a minute remaining Australia’s persistence paid off as they won a penalty corner. England scorer Owsley broke the defensive line early, resulting in another corner and the youngster being sent to the halfway line. From the follow-up, Hinch blocked but could only send the ball into the path of Kenny, who demonstrated superb control to thread a perfect shot through a crowd of bodies into the far corner for the equaliser with just 18 seconds remaining. It was Kenny’s tenth goal of the competition and sealed her place at the top of the goal scoring charts.
Locked at 1-1 after two shoot-out attempts each, Georgie Parker’s confident strike and Lynch’s save from Susie Gilbert handed Australia the advantage at 2-1. A foul on Kenny by Hinch resulted in the award of a penalty stroke but the defender’s flick went wide. After Lynch forced Nicola White wide and off the back line it fell to experienced captain Blyth, Australia’s second most capped woman ever, to finish the job sparking wild scenes of celebration.
Danny Kerry, England head coach said on the performance: “Given the age of some of the kids running around in this team, they have got an enormous amount of positives to take from that. We have just matched the team that have wiped everyone else off the park so I am chuffed to bits.
He said on winning a silver medal: “At the moment they are absolutely devastated however I think that when they wake up tomorrow and look at their silver medals from the Commonwealth Games and think that they have just drawn with Australia and have only lost one game in the last ten, they will be pretty pleased.”
Both sides were locked at 2-2 until New Zealand pulled away and smacked home three goals in the final 15 minutes to secure the win.
New Zealand won five of their six games in Glasgow, drawing to England in the semi-final and losing in a penalty shoot-out.
In today’s game, it took New Zealand only five minutes to go in front when Anita Punt scored with a slap shot finish, taking her tally for the tournament to eight goals. South Africa used its video referral but the challenge of whether the ball had moved five-metres before it entered the circle was rejected by the video umpire.
South Africa equalised when they converted a penalty stroke after Katie Glynn blocked a shot on the line with her body. But three minutes later New Zealand regained the lead when Krystal Forgesson deflected a penalty corner into the roof of the net for her eighth goal of the tournament.
In the second half, South Africa pegged one back with a reverse stick shot, but the turning point came for New Zealand when with 15 minutes left, Jordan Grant who was playing in her first Commonwealth Games, picked the perfect time to score her first goal of the tournament with a deflection that flashed past South Africa’s goalkeeper. Gemma Flynn made it four from a penalty corner before Grant added to her earlier goal.