Team GB blast to opening victory in Olympic hockey
- Credit: Frank Uijlenbroek
Great Britain got off to a fabulous start in the Rio Olympics hockey tournament with a 2-1 win over Australia.
Lily Owsley and Alex Danson got the goals in the team’s first pool match but it was the form of goalkeeper Maddie Hinch that caught the eye.
She produced a masterclass in the art of shot-stopping to deny the Hockeyroos on a number of occasions.
The GB team, which included St Albans Hockey Club’s player coach Hannah Macleod and Hitchin’s Helen Richardson-Walsh, had lost 4-1 to the Aussies in the Champions Trophy in June at London’s Lee Valley Hockey Centre.
But they gained revenge for that at the Olympic Hockey Centre in Vila Militar.
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They took the lead four minutes from the break with a sublime team goal.
Hollie Webb’s long pass was touched on by Shona McCallin to Sophie Bray. Her first time pass found Owsley who calmly slotted home.
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Australia hit back immediately at the other end but Georgina Morgan’s shot rattled the woodwork and it remained 1-0 at the half way mark.
However, three minutes after the half-time break it was all square, Morgan eventually finding her range with a lovely drag flick into the top corner.
But GB were undeterred and retook the lead when Susannah Townsend found Danson inside the circle and her turn and backhand effort found the net.
GB’s goalscorer Owsley said: “We gave them the respect they deserved going into the game. They’ve had the better of us in other games so we knew it’d be tough and they’d come out flying.
“We had to match them and that’s what we did early on. We got the momentum throughout the game and were able to get the win.
“To say we’ve been waiting for this game for a while is an understatement; We’ve been waiting four years and it’s great to get the ball rolling.
“As far as Saturday nights go, making my Olympic debut and scoring on it tops most other Saturday nights as a 21-year-old.
“I’m over the moon to get the three points in the group stage. To be where we want to be puts us in a strong position.
“We have to take it game by game and it’s a long group stage but to start with three points is really important.”
GB play five games in the pool stage with the top four in each pool qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Their next match is tomorrow (Monday) against India at 10pm and will be shown live on BBC Sport.