The Women’s European Championships – Will the Golden Girls Be Celebrating Again?
Hopes are high that England’s women will be able to successfully defend their EuroHockey title this year. In 2015, they claimed the coveted hockey trophy by beating the Netherlands in a thrilling final at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Caia van Maasakker set the home fans’ nerves on edge by scoring twice for the Netherlands, but final quarter goals from Sophie Bray and Lily Owsley brought England back on equal terms.
Maddie Hinch was the star of the penalty shootout, saving three of the Dutch players attempts and enabling England to seize the title. “This team has had so many highs and lows but we deserve this,” she later told the BBC.
The 2017 England squad includes a number of players who stood on the podium two years ago, some of whom were also part of the team that claimed gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Hinch, who played a key role in both victories, will be in action again in this year’s tournament, for example, while Alex Danson, who won the Player of the Tournament award in the 2015 EuroHockey Championships, has been named team captain for the 2017 competition.
England are playing in Group B, which also includes Germany, Ireland and Scotland, while Group A is made up of Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Spain. The opening match of the women’s tournament takes place tonight at 19:00, when the Netherlands take on Spain. England’s first tie, against Ireland, takes place tomorrow at 13.45.
Will England’s Men Make it into the Championship Final This Year?
The first matches of the men’s competition take place tomorrow, with Belgium playing Austria, and the Netherlands hoping to beat Spain. England aren’t in action until Sunday, when they’ll be taking on Poland at 08.00. Fellow Group B members Germany and Ireland will compete against each other at 14.30 on the same day.
England last won the trophy in 2009 and, unfortunately, their attempts to claim the title in 2015 ended in an all-too familiar way for the nation’s sports fans. They made it into the semi-finals, but were defeated by Germany on penalties. They eventually finished in fourth place, having lost to Ireland in the battle for the bronze.
In June, England’s men won the bronze medal in the World League Semi-Final, securing themselves places in the World League Final and the 2018 World Cup as a result. The following month, Bobby Crutchley, the team’s head coach, confirmed that his squad would remain unchanged for the EuroHockey Championships.
Speaking to the Team GB website, Crutchley said that the team was “really looking forward to the EuroHockey Championships, which will be a tough tournament playing against a number of teams who can win it”.