Great Britain captain Hollie Pearne-Webb praised her team’s ‘growth’ as they rounded off their FIH Pro League campaign with a 3-1 win over New Zealand in front of a big crowd at Harlequins’ Twickenham Stoop.
“The Pro League’s been a bit of a journey for us. Our first game over there against New Zealand didn’t exactly go to plan and since then we’ve been on a journey, but we’re really happy with today’s performance and last week’s too.” said Pearne-Webb.
Going into today’s game Great Britain had won just two matches in regulation time and although their chances of qualifying for the finals had long since passed, the determination to put on a show for the expectant crowd of a reported 11,000 was clear to see from the outset.
Great Britain threatened early on with Izzy Petter forcing an excellent save from Grace O’Hanlon in the New Zealand goal. However, with 23 minutes gone, Lily Owsley linked up well with Hannah Martin who applied the finish for her tenth international goal.
Spurred on by the support of the home crowd, Great Britain added to their lead ten minutes later. Tess Howard was kept out by Sally Rutherford but the ball found its way to Owsley just inside the circle. The No26 unleashed a superb backhand strike which gave the goalkeeper no chance and made it 2-0.
“We’ve shown how much we’ve grown, we’ve gritted some games out when we’ve needed to. We’re quite a new squad but I feel like today sets us a baseline for us to work towards and this sets us up for the rest of the year.” Pearne-Webb added.
“It’s been a challenging time but I think the bigger picture is we had some experienced players retire and quite a few significant injuries to big players. It’s credit to our squad. We’ve called some up from the EDP and it’s taken a while to learn but we have learned and now we’re in a much better place.”
“It feels really good and feels like we’re getting somewhere. I’m excited for the challenges ahead. It’s good we’re at this level, we’re at a good baseline we have a few weeks of hard training coming up which will prepare us for the European championships.”
Owsley grabbed her second of the match with a neatly taken finish from a penalty corner rebound and despite Olivia Merry pulling one back for the visitors, Great Britain were not to be denied.
Pearne-Webb, paid tribute to the fanatical home crowd after the match:
“I had to pinch myself. I’m so lucky I’m in a squad that is able to play at an event like this. I feel for the girls who retired recently because they did so much to put us in the position to have this opportunity but they don’t get to experience it. We now have the responsibility to keep these supporters and keep people coming back because days like today are incredible.”
It’s been a testing time, but are Great Britain on their way back? Time will tell.