Germany secured top spot in the pool with a clinical 2-1 win over the hosts here in London tonight. Great Britain threw everything at their opponents in front of a partisan home crowd, but in the end, they were unable to break their old foes down and get the result they needed.
Great Britain started brightly and had forced their opponents back for much of the early running. It was Germany who had the first penalty corner chance, however, but Natascha Keller hit wide.
Great Britain forced a penalty corner on eight minutes. With Kate Walsh rested and Crista Cullen absent due to injury, Emily Maguire stepped up. Her strike was blocked by Yvonne Frank in the Germany goal and swept to safety.
Danny Kerry seemed to make a slight tactical tweak, sending on Kerry Williams to play high and stretch the game out. The extra space allowed Helen Richardson to begin to influence the game more, whilst Chloe Rogers showed terrific skill, technique and pace winning a series of penalty corners for her side, and looking extremely dangerous every time she had possession. Despite the glut of penalty corners, Great Britain could not find a way through the German back line, Ashley Ball came the closest, but again was denied by the diving Frank.
The home side were camped in the Germany half, but with seven minutes to go until the break, they were hit by two sucker punches. First Janine Beermann deflected home from close range, then just a minute later Natascha Keller’s ball into the D was diverted in by Hannah Kruger leaving the home fans and players shell-shocked.
Great Britain came out for the second half with a real determination and purpose, whilst the Germans set about defending their lead with their usual discipline and organisation.
Helen Richardson continued to grow in influence and Hannah Macleod was a whisker away from getting a vital touch on a ball into the circle. Germany were by no means without attacking threat, Fanny Rinne was kept out by a fine save from Beth Storry, Keller was unusually wasteful from the rebound, finding the side netting under pressure from the diving Storry.
Again Great Britain forced a penalty corner and again Maguire was kept out, Frank did superbly to repel Laura Unsworth’s fierce shot from the rebound, too. The crowd were becoming more and more vocal as Britain were edging closer to a goal, however Nina Hasselmann could, and probably should have made it 3 when she wasted an excellent chance from a penalty corner.
With 15 minutes to go, the crowd finally had something to cheer about. It was hardly the most polished piece of hockey on display, but Hannah Macleod was on hand to force home the ball from close in and give her side renewed hope of salvaging a draw. Kerry Williams saw a shot fizz wide and Ashleigh Ball was unlucky to see Frank save her reverse stick effort, and that was that.
In truth, Great Britain had dominated the game, and were unlucky not to come away with a positive result. The difference in the end was efficiency in front of goal, and we all know about Germans and efficiency.
Germany progress to Saturday’s Semi Final where they will play Australia, whilst Great Britain face Ireland in the 5th/6th playoff on Sunday.