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Sterling effort as Great Britain take Champions Trophy silver
** Champions Trophy Final **
ARGENTINA 1 (1)
Silvina D'Elia 29 (PC)
GREAT BRITAIN 0 (0)
A single penalty corner strike by Silvina D'Elia late in the first half meant Great Britain's women collected the silver medal at the Champions Trophy in Rosario on Sunday night. Despite losing to the World Champions by the narrowest of margins, the result represents Great Britain's best ever finish in a World level event and comes just under six months before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
D'Elia's penalty corner strike just over five minutes before half time proved decisive in a match that saw both defences on top with Great Britain's Reading goalkeeper Beth Storry pulling off a string of good saves from penalty corners.
Great Britain entered the gold medal clash on the back of a spirited semi final victory over Germany, while Argentina's progress to the final came after they beat the Netherlands on penalties. With Great Britain boasting the best defensive record in the tournament it was always going to be tight and so it proved.
Before the match, Leicester's Chloe Rogers received was presented with her 50th cap for Great Britain by Great Britain Hockey President Richard Leman. Coach Danny Kerry opted for the same 16 players that had beaten Germany just over 24 hours earlier.
The opening spell saw both sides work hard to establish a foothold in the game and the earliest opportunities fell the way of the hosts who won a series of penalty corners. The first was miss-controlled at the top of the circle but from the second and third Great Britain's Crista Cullen and goalkeeper Beth Storry produced good blocks to maintain the 0-0 score.
Slough's Nicola White had Great Britain's first real chance of the half as she entered the top of the Argentina circle but her shot on her reverse was blocked by a defender and cleared. Soon after Leicester's Cullen was called upon again from another penalty corner before Silvina D'Elia broke the deadlock with well hit finish from her side's fifth penalty corner.
Immediately after the goal, Reading goalkeeper Storry reacted well to block a close range one-on-one as Argentina threatened again. Great Britain came close to an equaliser three minutes before the break when Cullen's goal-bound penalty corner flick was cleared from in front of goal by Rosario Luchetti. And there was still time for Storry to produce a double save at the other end from another Argentina penalty corner.
The second half saw both defences on top with Great Britain's back line withstanding early pressure. Argentina's defence looked set to be tested midway through the half when White again broke into the circle but she failed to get her shot away. Storry again produced two excellent saves from penalty corners before Reading forward Alex Danson flashed a cross just inches behind her fellow World All Stars nominee Helen Richardson in the final moments.
Despite the late scare Argentina held on for the victory, winning by a single goal in a tight affair.
After the match Great Britain Head Coach Danny Kerry said, "I thought Argentina played very well tonight. They defended well, they didn't create too many opportunities and their defence held out. We started to get back into it in the second half but it wasn't to be.
"We won four, drew one and lost just one in a major world level tournament. We've made history tonight winning the silver medal.
"After yesterday's game we had three or four players trying to find their game, we know where we need to improve and we will go forward and work on those areas. We have set ourselves high standards and I have to match the standards that the players have set themselves. That is the pressure I feel going into the Olympics."
Great Britain Captain Kate Walsh said, "I am proud of the team tonight. We're devastated not to have won. Argentina took their chance well but all in all it's a disappointment. But, it will fuel us on our way to London.
"It was a great crowd and a great atmosphere. We thrive and get excited playing in front of a big crowd; hopefully we can get the same support at home in the Investec London Cup, the Olympic Test Event and at the Olympic Games."
Earlier in the day, the Netherlands won the bronze medal after beating Germany 5-4.
The Champions Trophy is the first of three major tournaments for Great Britain ahead of the Olympic Games in London. From 2-6 May, Great Britain will play in the Olympic Test Event and just seven weeks before London 2012, Great Britain will host some of the best teams in the world at the Investec London Cup in Chiswick. Tickets for the Investec London Cup will go on sale shortly. Supporters can pre-register their interest for free on the Great Britain Hockey website.
GREAT BRITAIN SQUAD v ARGENTINA
*caps and goals on the attached document
Beth Storry (Reading) Goalkeeper
Crista Cullen (Leicester) Defender
Emily Maguire (Reading) Defender
Anne Panter (Leicester) Defender
Laura Unsworth (Loughborough Students) Defender
Kate Walsh (Reading) Defender
Ashleigh Ball (Slough) Midfielder
Helen Richardson (Reading) Midfielder
Alex Danson (Reading) Forward
Sarah Thomas (No Club) Forward
Hannah Macleod (Leicester) Forward
Sally Walton (Bowdon Hightown) Defender
Chloe Rogers (Leicester) Midfielder
George Twigg (Clifton) Midfielder
Laura Bartlett (Reading) Forward
Nicola White (Slough) Forward
Did Not Play
Abi Walker (EuroCanterbury) Goalkeeper
Natalie Seymour (EuroCanterbury) Defender