Review of 2017: England's Women

Danson in action v Germany
At the beginning of the year Olympians - still beaming from their success in Rio - and new faces excited to take their first steps in international hockey came together to start their new four-year cycle.

There have been many highs for the squad made all the sweeter as newer members to the central programme have quickly found their feet and made their mark. 

European Championship Bronze
World League Semi-Finals Bronze

Landmark goals: 
Danson reaches 100 international goals 
Danson moves to 2nd in all-time list of combined GB & England scorers (106)

Cap honours: 
Laura Unsworth 200 caps (GB & Eng) 
Lily Owsley 100 caps (GB & Eng)
Nicola White 100 caps (Eng)
Giselle Ansley 100 caps (GB & Eng) 
Sophie Bray 100 caps (GB & Eng)
Sarah Haycroft 50 caps (Eng)
Zoe Shipperley 50 caps (GB & Eng)

England celebrate v China

England’s return to competitive hockey as a new squad began in late February when they travelled to South Africa and won both matches in the two-game series, with eleven players making their senior England debuts during the trip including Anna Toman, Emily Defroand and Hannah Martin.

Next up was another test series with Spain in Madrid which saw the welcome return of Susannah Townsend from injury. However the series was lost 2-1 to the Spanish.

Danson in action against the Netherlands

In June the squad returned home to face both Argentina and the Netherlands in front of packed crowds at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre for the Investec Internationals. A stunning comeback from 2-0 down against the Dutch also saw Alex Danson score her 100th international goal in front of home support and live on BT Sport!

England returned to South Africa in July for the World League Semi-Finals in Johannesburg and, despite losing to the USA in the semi-finals, put in a stunning performance against Argentina to win 5-2 and take bronze.

England women Euros

The events kept coming in 2017 and in August England set out to defend their EuroHockey crown. They met the Netherlands in the semi-final saw a fantastic match played out in front of 10,000 fans at the Wagener Stadium in Amsterdam but it was the hosts who edged the match 1-0. However England responded in their bronze game against Germany with the impressive Hannah Martin continuing to make a name for herself.

There was further a positive for England as defender Hollie Pearne-Webb was named Player of the Tournament for her outstanding performances at the back, proving herself to be one of the very best defenders in the world.

England under 21 women equalled their senior colleagues by claiming bronze in the EuroHockey Junior Championships in Valencia.

The team, like the seniors, faced Germany in their bronze medal match and ran out 3-2 winners to secure third place in an epic encounter.

Erica Sanders put England into an early lead which they held up until the 44th minute when a quick fire double saw the Germans move 2-1 ahead. However England weren’t finished as Holly Munro equalised in the 56th minute and a last gasp strike from Esme Burge secured a memorable victory for England.

Danson had been leading the team during the year on a temporary basis but in November she took up the position on a permanent basis after being voted in by the squad, meaning she will lead the team through until the end of the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup in London. 

A tough training block followed with two months to prepare and train for the World League Finals in Auckland which saw the welcome return of head coach Danny Kerry after his illness during the World League Semi-Finals in South Africa.

Kerry gave opportunities to Suzy Petty, Livy Paige and Erica Sanders who all appeared at their first major senior tournaments. 

England reached the semi-finals with impressive displays over China in the pool stage - where Alex Danson netted her 106th international goal - and then against the USA in the quarter-finals. However England were frustrated by a determined defensive display from Korea in their battle for bronze and narrowly lost out 1-0.

Attacker Lily Owsley shone throughout the tournament with her unrivalled speed and caused havoc for all opposition defences and deservedly was named the Junior Player of the Tournament. 

England v Netherlands

The year has been an exciting one from start to finish as the squad continues to progress and now heads into what can only be described as an action-packed 2018!

The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April are first on the horizon before the incredible opportunity of hosting the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London! Watch this space...