Johannesburg, South Africa: A wonderful Hockey World League Semi-Finals event drew to a close on Sunday, with USA women winning the showpiece final in front of a capacity crowd at the University of the Witwatersrand.
The USA taking dramatic shoot-out win over Germany’s women to secure a first place finish.
USA claimed three of the four individual awards in the women's competition, with Melissa Gonzalez named Best Player, Jackie Briggs Best Goalkeeper and Jill Witmer finishing top of the scoring charts with five goals. Germany's talented defender Nike Lorenz took the Best Young Player award. For more information on the women's individual award winners, click here.
USA’s triumph over Germany in the women’s competition was certainly earned the hard way, with both teams locked in a tense tussle dominated by excellent defending for two score-less quarters. The deadlock was eventually broken by Camille Nobis, who beat Jackie Briggs with a superb near-post deflection in the third quarter.
It was a lead that they held until the 58th minute when Taylor West forced a shoot-out with a clinical penalty stroke conversion. As always, the shoot-out itself was packed full of drama, but it was USA who prevailed 3-2 thanks to conversions from Melissa Gonzalez, Michelle Vitesse and a remarkable, composed winner from 17-year-old Erin Matson, all capitalising on some crucial blocks from the outstanding Briggs.
“Germany is an incredible opponent, so we knew it was going to be a battle", said USA’s Michelle Vitesse. “It feels really good to come out on top. I’m proud of the team, proud of the work we put into it and the preparation we took to be ready.”
England were superb in their 5-2 triumph over Argentina, with Sophie Bray forcing home a close range opener in the first quarter before Las Leonas levelled through Lucina von der Heyde. Susannah Townsend started and finished a flowing team move to put England back in front three minutes before the break, but Argentina restored parity once again on the stroke of half time thanks to a clever deflection from Delfina Merino. England kicked on in the third and fourth quarters, with defender Laura Unsworth scoring a rare goal before Giselle Ansley grabbed a double, netting a penalty stroke and a penalty corner drag-flick.
“We are thrilled to finish with a win, and it was a really professional performance out there”, said England’s Giselle Ansley. “It has been a long tournament so it is good to finish on a high. We’ve got about three weeks to until the European Championships, so the win gives us confidence before we head out to Amsterdam.”
Full coverage of the event is available on www.fih.ch, with reports, news stories, event imagery and much more. The FIH is also providing comprehensive coverage of the event via our social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the #HWL2017 hashtag. For information about the broadcasters covering this event, click here.
Hockey World League Semi-Finals - Johannesburg, South Africa
Results: Sunday 23rd July 2017
Women 3/4: England 5, Argentina 2
Men 3/4: Australia 8, Spain 1
Women Final: USA 1, Germany 1 (3-2 after shoot-out)
Men Final: Belgium 6, Germany 1
– but the sailors praise the new boats