Great Britain missed out on a bonus point in the FIH Pro League after losing 2-1 in a shootout with Argentina after a 1-1 draw in normal time.
Agustina Albetarrio’s scrambled goal eight minutes from time looked like it would settle a close-fought encounter but Owsley’s goal just four minutes later ensured a point apiece and took the match to a shootout, which Argentina edged, 2-1.
Despite the shootout defeat, goalscorer Owsley was upbeat about her team’s performance:
“It’s been a tough run up until now. We’ve got a pretty new team and with a new coach we’ve been building on some different things it’s been frustrating in the last few months but I feel like today we really put some things right. We absolutely nailed our press. There are a few more things we need to tie together but we really showed what sort of a team we can play as. It’s exciting looking forwards. Yes they got us in the shootout but a point is a point and we’ll keep building on that.”
Great Britain forced more penalty corners, had more shots and more possession in the 60 minutes with their high energy, high tempo, aggressive press causing Argentina problems building their possession out from the back. On more than one occasion Mark Hager’s side stole the ball high up the pitch with Owsley winning a penalty corner from one of these raids and Hannah Martin threatening more than once. It was a calculated plan as the University of Birmingham attacker explained post match:
“We’ve got a few presses under our belt and we’ll tweak them and mix them depending on certain plans and players. Mark [Hager] and Ralphie really nailed that today. They do all the work and we have to go and implement it on the pitch we did it today, the main tactics were to have some fight in the dog, get in their faces, let them know we’re there and be aggressive. No cards but show our determination. Against a top team like Argentina we have to physically match them and we did that.”
Great Britain fielded Surbiton’s 18-year-old Izzy Petter for her international debut and Mark Hager’s side matched Argentina all over the field in a game where clear chances were scarce. Albetarrio’s pace was a constant threat and Carla Rebecchi showed flashes of her class in the third quarter where she had a shot beaten away by Sabbie Heesh in the Great Britain goal.
At the other end, Owsley and Martin linked up well whilst Eric Sanders went close with a snapshot and Sarah Robertson drew a good save out of Cristina Consentino after latching onto a good pass from the excellent Sarah Evans.
Albetarrio’s scrambled strike looked set to win it but Owsley forced in her 28th international goal to take the match to a shootout.
After Anna Toman’s opening effort was saved by Consentino, Silivina D’Elia smashed in from the top of the circle to make it 1-0. Martin’s effort crashed into the side netting but then Albetarrio blazed over the top. Hollie Pearne-Webb forced her effort home to make it 1-1 but then Heesh saved brilliantly from Agostina Alonso. Sarah Jones and Rebecchi were both unable to score and when Evans was also denied Julia Jankunas had the chance to win it, which she duly did.
Great Britain take a point from the match whilst Argentina claimed the bonus point for their shootout win, leaving GB down in seventh in the standings with one win from nine matches.
“We’ve played in pretty good spirits. Everyone knows the run we’re on in the Pro League. We’re in a transitional period but we have to have the belief that it’ll all come together. We have so much faith in Mark [Hager] that we know what he’s implementing is so different and refreshing. The last few weeks we’ve shown what we can do and it’s starting to come together. It’s not going to be there today or tomorrow but the last few months we’ve shown how much we can improve and the next few months are exciting.” said Owsley.
Great Britain have little time to dwell on what might have been with Belgium coming up in tomorrow’s FIH Pro League game, also at Lee Valley. Owsley however is relishing the chance to take to the field so soon after today’s match:
“It’s perfect to have a game back to back. We haven’t had that in so long. You always finish a game and then wish you can get back out there and build on momentum or put something right. A point is momentum for us right now and we’re not going to come away with less than three points tomorrow.”