Las Leonas miss out on medal after second successive shoot-out defeat
England have claimed the Bronze Medal at the Argentina Hockey World League Final thanks to a shoot-out triumph over the host nation in San Miguel de Tucuman.
Goal-keeper Maddie Hinch and defender Sally Walton proved to be England’s match winners, with the former making two saves in the shoot-out before the latter recovered from scoring an own goal in regulation time to net the winner.
For Argentina, it is the first time since the 2006 Champions Trophy that they have failed to medal in a world level event.
Argentina started the game in lively fashion, cheered on as ever by six thousand fans packed into the stadium. However, despite dominating the early exchanges, it was England who took the lead with the very first attack of the game. Great persistence in the Argentinean circle from Laura Unsworth forced an error from Rocio Sanchez Moccia, who bundled the ball into her own net to silence the home fans. The goal was credited to Unsworth, but the part played by Sanchez Moccia cannot be under-estimated.
Rosario Luchetti almost levelled matters when she cut in from the left and cracked a shot towards the top right corner of the goal, but England shot-stopper Maddie Hinch palmed the ball away to safety with her left glove to keep England's lead intact.
England's defensive resistance frustrated both the Argentina team and fans, who watched their beloved Leonas put together some decent build up play only to be thwarted by a back line marshalled by Kate Richardson-Walsh.
Three minutes before the break, the Argentine fans burst into life when a speculative cross into the circle from the right ended up in the back of the England net via the stick of Sally Walton to tie the scores. In fairness, it was a stroke of luck that Argentina probably deserved, although it was tough on the hard working England defender who could have done little to stop it.
The early stages of the second half were evenly fought, although the best chances were still falling the way of the home favourites. Hinch was called into action with great saves to deny efforts from Carla Rebecchi and Martina Cavallero, ensuring that England kept themselves in the game.
The match really came to life in the last ten minutes, with both sides searching for a winner. Neither side could manage it, meaning that the match would have to be settled by a shoot-out. For Argentina, it was their second shoot-out in succession following Saturday’s defeat at the hands of the Netherlands, and this one would not go their way either.
With the shoot-out score at 2-1 following successful efforts from England’s Helen Richardson-Walsh and Alex Danson either side of a Carla Rebecchi strike, it was Argentina who missed first while Maddie Hinch denied Delfina Merino with a great block. England’s Susie Gilbert and Argentina’s Mariela Scarone took the score to 3-2 before Kate Richardson-Walsh and Julia Gomes Fantasia both missed their chances.
The winning goal came from Sally Walton, who made amends for her own goal by producing a nonchalant finish to give England a famous victory over their illustrious opponents.
The victory was even more special for England’s Ashleigh Ball, who celebrated her 100th international by claiming a Hockey World League Bronze medal.Back