Giselle Ansley was left “absolutely gutted” as England’s Hockey Women’s World Cup hopes were wrecked by a classy Netherlands side in the quarter-final.
Goals from Lidweij Welten and Laurien Leurink were enough to continue the Oranje’s march towards the semi-finals where they will meet Australia in what is a repeat of the 2014 final.
“It wasn’t what we hoped the outcome would be but I’m still super proud.” said Ansley. “We showed a lot of fight for the whole game and we never gave up. That was really important for us to stick at it and we really did. It just wasn’t to be.”
A defiant display from Maddie Hinch kept England in the hunt, the goalkeeper denying Lauren Stam and Leurink in the early going whilst watching on as a penalty corner from Caia van Maasakker thudded against the crossbar. The pressure told eventually however and from a lovely move Xan de Waard played in Welten who calmly slotted home the opener.
— FIH (@FIH_Hockey) August 2, 2018
“We knew it’d be tough.” said Ansley. “It was 1 vs 2 in the world and they haven’t lost since January 2017. We knew they were in really good form but we weren’t going to shy away from that, we knew that’s how it would be. We firmly believed we could beat them. We had our game plan and we stuck to it and fair play to the team we gave it absolutely everything. Just today wasn’t quite good enough.”
England had their moments on the front foot with the pace and direct running of Lily Owsley and Alex Danson unsettling the back line but England were finding clear chances hard to come by. Hinch was called upon once more and produced another superb block to deny Laura Nunnink to keep it 1-0.
In the third quarter England were punished by a ruthless Dutch attack. Ansley’s pass was cut out by Welten, she fed Frederique Matla who teed up Leurink for a simple finish, making it 2-0 and giving England a mountain to climb.
Roared on by the crowd of over 10,000 England threw all they had at the Netherlands but it was not to be their night. Despite the disappointment, Ansley was keen to look at the bigger picture in the wake of the defeat.
“It’s about the big moments and learning to win in those big moments. For us as a team we’re still building. There’s two years to Tokyo and we’ll learn from this. It really hurts but you learn more from the tougher moments, they say. We’ll take a huge amount from this and it’ll be really important in the future when it comes to trying to win these games. Today it just wasn’t meant to be.”