Semi-Final Preview: Sophie Bray

Sophie Bray lines up the shot

England’s Sophie Bray enjoyed almost the perfect night in England’s last game against Germany. On the occasion of her 50th England cap, Bray terrorised the German defence, scored one and set up one for Alex Danson in a superb England performance. Good days at the office don’t come much better than that one.

“We were surprised at how open the Germany game was. We knew there was space on the counterattack but there was much more than we expected. Danny Kerry wanted a fast start but i don’t think any of us expected to go 2-0 up in the first couple of minutes. It gave us a good base for the rest of the game.”

The EuroHockey Championships is a notoriously difficult tournament to compete in with some top quality sides with a variety of styles and tactics. Bray praises the coach, Danny Kerry and her teammates for their ability to change their style to suit the challenge presented:

“It’s difficult to adapt to the different teams but it’s one of our strengths that we’re quite tactically aware. We have a game plan which differs each time and Danny is meticulous and leaves no stone unturned. We’re good at executing what we’ve been told to do and it’s shown in this tournament.”

With belief in the systems they play, a series of good performances behind them and a partisan home crowd, the mood in the camp is good for England:

“We are confident and there’s a good feel around the team. We’re experienced in big tournaments and I’m happy that if we put in a performance we can get the job done. We’ve played Spain a lot so we know each other very well. It’s a tactical battle but they are very passionate but if we can keep their key players quiet we have a chance.” she adds “The crowd have been amazing. It was an unbelievable atmosphere against Germany and it does give you some extra energy. It was special to play in and we want more of the same against Spain.”

The atmosphere and the support of a home crowd is a theme that crops up time and time again, but Bray, like her teammates remains steadfastly on message about the prospect of a home final:

“We’re trying not to get ahead of ourselves. Our focus on the semi finals but in the back of my mind i think how special it would be to play in a home final. We have to get the job done against Spain first.”