Late goals condemn England to opening game loss

Hannah Martin v Germany HWL Final 2017
England (0) 0

Germany (0) 2
PC - Stapenhorst (PC, 51), Lorenz (PC, 56)

Two late penalty corner strikes saw Germany fight off a battling England side in the opening game of Pool B at the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final.

Despite the less than favourable Auckland conditions, the game was played at a fast and intense pace throughout, with both sides creating a number of chances they were unable to convert.

Sarah Haycroft and Alex Danson both came close with sliding efforts for England while Lily Owsley also mishit a golden opportunity over the bar.

But it was to be their opponents who would exact revenge for losing in the summer’s EuroHockey Championships bronze medal match as final quarter flicks from Charlotte Stapenhorst and Nike Lorenz ensured their team started the tournament in the best possible fashion.

Germany started on the front foot but took nine minutes to force the game’s first chance as Amelie Wortmann’s deflection on an Elisa Grave cross looped just wide of Maddie Hinch’s goal.

Danny Kerry’s side then hit back on the counter almost immediately but Haycroft could not quite divert Erica Sanders’ wicked cross on target, before Sophie Bray saw a shot well blocked by a defender at the start of the second quarter.

Substitute Amy Tennant was the busier goalkeeper for the rest of the first half thereafter, being forced into a number of good saves, before England almost opened the scoring against the run of play in the 29th minute as an impressive Sanders was denied by Julia Ciupka after a neat exchange with Bray.

Germany continued to press in the second half, winning a penalty corner after 40 seconds that required Hinch to be at her best to keep out Annika Sprink with help from Shona McCallin.

A 37th minute yellow card for Stapenhorst gave England an opportunity but it was not until the Germans were back up to their full quota that they created their next chance with Owsley unable to keep her effort below the crossbar.

A moment of genius from Hannah Martin almost gave her side the lead shortly into the fourth quarter but the clever flick through her legs was another opportunity that narrowly failed to find the target.

Danson then just failed to convert a cross from Ellie Rayer after an impressive run from the 19-year-old in the 51st minute before Xavier Reckinger’s team then made them pay for the missed opportunities moments later as Stapenhorst slammed a penalty corner past Tennant after an unsuccessful England review.

That lead doubled five minutes later as Lorenz smashed another corner past an unfortunate Tennant, while England thought they had got a goal back in the 59th minute after Owsley turned the ball home after a stunning Martin run only for it to be ruled out for danger.

Starting XI: Hinch, Unsworth, Martin, Paige, Danson, Ansley, Bray, Pearne-Webb, McCallin, Owsley, Balsdon

Subs (Used): Haycroft, Toman, Petty, Sanders, Rayer, Defroand, Tennant