- Great Britain win Hockey World League Semi-Final in Valencia
- Third qualification place goes to Germany after they beat Argentina in shoot-out
- Georgina Oliva (ESP) wins Player of the Tournament
Great Britain beat China 2-0 to take first place at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Valencia. In the third place match, Germany beat Argentina to win the coveted third automatic Olympic qualification place. All four teams competing 1-4 in Valencia have qualified for the Hockey World League Final in Argentina at the end of the year.
Individual awards were presented to Spain’s Georgina Oliva, the Player of the Tournament; Maddie Hinch (GBR) was voted as Goalkeeper of the Tournament; Charlotte Stapenhorst was named Young Player and Top Goal Scorer was shared by Carla Rebecchi of Argentina and Sophie Bray of Great Britain, who scored five goals apiece.
Two penalty corner goals from Great Britain ensured they maintained their fantastic run in the World League Semi-Final as a 2-0 win over China made it seven wins from seven.
With Olympic qualification secured in yesterday’s semi-final, goals from Hollie Webb and Alex Danson ensured GB added the gold medal to cap a superb tournament for Danny Kerry’s side.
As was the case in the pool match between the sides, it was a cagey opening quarter with chances hard to come by. Sophie Bray had the first sight of goal in the match when the ball broke to her in the circle and she fired in an instant backhand shot which Dongxiao Li saved well.
China soon forced Maddie Hinch into action at the other end. Yang Peng did brilliantly to manufacture a shot at full stretch as she fell only for the GB No1 to block and clear the danger.
The second quarter was shaping up to be a stalemate as both sides seemed content to sit back and wait for an opening to present itself. However with six minutes left in the half, Nicola White did well to win a penalty corner, the first of the game. Hollie Webb stepped up and broke the deadlock with a rocket strike into the corner for her first of the competition. Lily Owsley forced a save from Li after a strong run and fierce shot but then Great Britain won another penalty corner with seconds to the break. China referred but the decision was upheld and the corner remained. Kate Richardson-Walsh broke out to the left to fire the ball across but Li made a good block with Helen Richardson-Walsh closing in and it remained 1-0 at the break.
Within five minutes of the restart a driving run from Alex Danson earned Danny Kerry’s side a penalty corner. Webb’s shot was saved by Li but another corner was awarded. This time Kate Richardson-Walsh’s pass was deflected in by a diving Alex Danson for Great Britain’s second of the match and the No15’s fourth of the tournament.
With ten minutes to play China won their first penalty corner. Mengyu Wang stepped up and scored via a deflection off Lily Owsley’s body. Great Britain referred claiming the shot was dangerous. Their appeal was upheld and the goal was disallowed, preserving the lead. With time running out Xiaoxue Zhang slapped a shot goalwards but Hinch extended a right foot to make a good save to clear the danger. Great Britain saw the game out and picked up the gold medal.
On winning the title, Great Britain Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh said, “It was an amazing performance in this tournament. We said at the beginning that we’d take one game at a time and build momentum, and that’s what we’ve done. It wasn’t our most stellar performance today but we dug in and took our chances when they came. I’ve played with Alex a long time and it’s really sweet to link up and see that corner come off.
We’re here as a squad of 18 but we have a squad of 31 and we really want to build for the year ahead. We’ve got the Unibet EuroHockey Championships in August, it’s always nice to play as a home nation against Scotland it’s a really good rivalry and I can’t wait!”