A Great British comeback took place at the Champions Trophy in Rosario on Sunday as two Crista Cullen goals helped Great Britain fight back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with the world’s number one team, the Netherlands.
Leicester defender Cullen scored both of Great Britain’s goals from second half penalty corners in a match that also saw the 26 year old and captain Kate Walsh fail to convert penalty strokes. And Great Britain had EuroCanterbury goalkeeper Abi Walker to thank for an inspired performance in goal as the Scottish stopper pulled off a series of excellent saves from second half penalty corners.
Great Britain Head Coach spoke afterwards about his side’s belief being key to getting results. “The girls need to believe in themselves more,” he said. “At half time we spoke about belief and for them [the players] to decide if they are good enough.”
Great Britain’s Welsh star Sarah Thomas made her 50th appearance in a GB vest while birthday girl Abi Walker came in for Beth Storry, who sat out the match with Walker’s clubmate Natalie Seymour.
Great Britain had fallen behind to a scrappy goal from the Netherlands’ Naomi Van As in the seventh minute as the Dutchwoman volleyed home after the ball fell to her inside the British circle. They Brits thought they had equalised though midway through the first half after a good advantage was played at a penalty corner. However, the whistle had already gone to award Great Britain a penalty stroke, which captain Kate Walsh could only put wide of the goal.
Things got worse for Great Britain three minutes before the break when Kim Lammers doubled the Dutch tally.
After a rallying half time team talk Great Britain returned for the second half and five minutes in Crista Cullen gave them the lifeline they needed as she converted a penalty corner to make it 2-1.
And Cullen had the chance to make it 2-2 from the spot when Great Britain were awarded a second penalty corner in the 56th minute. Despite putting her effort on target, the Leicester player was thwarted by Joyce Sombroek in the Dutch goal.
At the other end, Scottish goalkeeper Abi Walker made a series of top drawer saves to prevent the Netherlands from extending their lead and her contribution was to prove critical as the match entered its final stage.
With nine minutes remaining, up stepped Cullen to net her second penalty corner of the match to equalise and earn Great Britain a share of the spoils against the world’s number one ranked team.
Afterwards, Head Coach Danny Kerry said, “We’re disappointed with our first half performance. The girls need to believe in themselves more. At half time we spoke about belief and for them [the players] to decide if they are good enough.
“I’m disgusted that we’re being asked to play in such high temperatures; it’s dangerous and wrong.”
Despite earning the draw, Captain Kate Walsh added, “We’re disappointed with our performance today. We turned the ball over too cheaply. We needed to be stronger. We created chances and gradually put them under more pressure as the game went on. It was a more buoyant second half and we can take that forward into the rest of the tournament.”
Great Britain now have a rest day on Monday before the final Pool A fixture against China on Tuesday. In the other match in the Pool, Olympic silver medal holders China beat Japan 2-1.
GREAT BRITAIN SQUAD v NETHERLANDS
*caps and goals on the attached document
Abi Walker (EuroCanterbury) Goalkeeper
Crista Cullen (Leicester) Defender
Emily Maguire (Reading) Defender
Laura Unsworth (Loughborough Students) Defender
Sally Walton (Bowdon Hightown) Defender
Kate Walsh (Reading) Defender
Ashleigh Ball (Slough) Midfielder
Helen Richardson (Reading) Midfielder
Alex Danson (Reading) Forward
Hannah Macleod (Leicester) Forward
Sarah Thomas (No Club) Forward
Anne Panter (Leicester) Defender
Chloe Rogers (Leicester) Midfielder
George Twigg (Clifton) Midfielder
Laura Bartlett (Reading) Forward
Nicola White (Slough) Forward
Did Not Play
Beth Storry (Reading) Goalkeeper
Natalie Seymour (EuroCanterbury) Defender
CHAMPIONS TROPHY STANDINGS
1. Great Britain (4 pts)
2. Netherlands (4 pts)
3. China (3 pts)
4. Japan (0 pts)
1. Germany (3 pts)
2. Argentina (1 pt)
3. New Zealand (1 pt)
4. Korea (1 pt)
photos Janos Schmidt