Belfius EuroHocekey Championships
Women’s Bronze Match: Spain 1 (M Tost) England 1 (H Martin), Spain win shoot-out 3-2

Spain won their first European medal since 2003 as they fought back from a goal deficit to beat England in a shoot-out, ending the English run of seven successive medals.

Normal time ended 1-1 with England taking the lead in the 10th minute via Hannah Martin before Maria Tost equalised in the second half, setting up the shoot-out.

England went in front in the tenth minute when Lily Owsley won the ball from a loose defensive free. She was through two on one and laid off to Martin who finished off for 1-0.

Spain, though, have been playing at a high tempo this tournament and they soon started to force the tempo, winning a corner while Marta Segu tested the reflexes of Maddie Hinch who was excellent throughout.

It left the scoreline at 1-0 to England at half-time as the temperatures began to rise in the stadium. Maria Tost equalised in the 36th minute when Begona Garcia took a quick free on the right and delivered the cross into the path for Maria Tost to guide.

Giselle Ansley’s drag-flick was scrambled away by Maria Ruiz, denying an instant response for England as the play whizzed from end to end.

Hinch had to be on her guard with a spectacular stop from Carlota Petchame with Tost’s follow-up also drawing an important block.

Indeed, Spain much of the final quarter camped in English territory but they looked vulnerable to counters when Jo Hunter got away, leading to Martin’s shot being deflected wide.

But no one could find that winning touch and so it went to shoot-out. England took the initial advantage when Hinch kept out Gigi Oliva.

But a dramatic third round saw Ellie Rayer fouled for a stroke. Melanie Garcia came off the bench to save it from Giselle Ansley. Begona Garcia and Bea Perez both scored while Sarah Evans rolled her shot wide to put make it 3-2.

It left Holly Pearne-Webb the chance to try and keep the game alive but Ruiz saved it and Spain had their first Euro medal since 2003.

“We’re pretty happy obivously,” Spanish coach Adrian Lock said. “It was a shame we conceded the goal we did because it was a bit of a gift but it didn’t really affect us too much.

“We kept in the game, growing in the second half and made a few changes for the last quarter which helped us control it and create opportunities. Shoot-outs, we prepared pretty well which I was confident about and knew we could take it.”

Asked about Melanie Garcia’s role in the shoot-out, he added: “We have one keeper better than the other on strokes and she is able mentally to switch on and play her role.

“It seems the obvious thing to do. She hasn’t played a lot during the tournament, only half a game, and now she is a bit of a star. Even if its just one moment, it made a difference.”

It has been a special 12 month for Spain with World Cup bronze and a Junior European Championship gold. How far does he think the side can go?

“As long as we keep that desire to improve and make ourselves better players and better people, the sky is the limit. We will keep working with this team to the Olympic qualifier in October now to ensure our qualification.

“If that goes well, we have now seen we can compete with the top teams in the world and Europe. We are pretty consolidated in that top five or six in the world and can compete there and belong there.”

Umpires: A Keogh (IRL), I Makar (CRO)

Spain – England
10’ Hannah Martin (FG) 0-1
36’ Maria Tost (FG) 1-1

Shoot-out
Hannah Martin 0-1
Clara Ycart 1-1
Anna Toman 1-2
Gigi Oliva – saved
Ellie Rayer/Giselle Ansley PS – saved
Begona Garcia 2-2
Sarah Evans – saved
Bea Perez 3-2
Holly Pearne-Webb – saved