Maddie Hinch stars in shootout as England reach women’s hockey final

The Guardian - Fri Aug 5 20:00

England beat New Zealand on penalties to stay on course for a first women’s hockey Commonwealth Games gold medal. Isabelle Petter and Hannah Martin scored in the shootout as the goalkeeper Maddie Hinch refused to be beaten with a series of brilliant saves and afterwards professed to “love penalties”.

The sides could not be separated in 60 intense minutes, playing out a goalless draw that was a repeat of the bronze-medal match in Australia four years ago. On that occasion New Zealand won on penalties to progress to the gold medal match. The Black Sticks also beat England 3-1 in the World Cup last month.

The opening exchanges were played at a furious pace with chances at both ends. Giselle Ansley drove wide from an England penalty corner, but Hinch was soon the busier of the two goalkeepers. Hinch made a smart double-save and had to be alert again after England gave the ball to Tessa Jopp.

Holly Hunt went close for the hosts, and Sophie Hamilton sent in a fierce cross but no one was there to convert. But the first half turned into a scrappy affair with neither side able to dominate.

Hinch remained a solid barrier to repel two New Zealand penalty corners in the third quarter. England took command in the final quarter and Ansley was denied from successive penalty corners, while the captain Hollie Pearne-Webb saw a follow-up effort saved by Grace O’Hanlon. Anna Toman also saw her effort pushed out and Shona McCallin was off target as neither side could find a way through.

Five attempts went begging in the shootout before Petter converted and when Martin’s effort trickled over the line, England’s women moved to within one victory of breaking their Commonwealth Games gold medal duck.

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Afterwards, Hinch said: “This is fairytale stuff for us, to come here and find ourselves in the final. This is a hugely important step for us to start believing and realise what we’re capable of. It was a cracking semi, I’m just so delighted for the team.

Asked about penalties, she added: “I absolutely love them. You have to, you know it’s going to be a tough gig. As goalies, a lot of the time you’re picking the ball out of the net, it’s pretty unforgiving.

“These are the moments to really showcase the position, and I’m trying to inspire as many people as possible to wear these weird-looking outfits and be the hero for a few minutes.”