By The Hockey Paper
Captain Alex Danson believes that hockey is entering a new era of fast-paced matches – and England women have just the kind of weaponry to cope with its physical demands.
Danson netted her 104th international goal following strikes by Laura Unsworth, Ellie Watton and Sophie Bray in a clinical 4-1 victory over Ireland as they began their EuroHockey title defence in style.
Danson, 32, was left in awe of the tireless running employed by the likes of Jo Hunter and Ellie Rayer, playing in her first major tournament.
“Their pace is electric,” Danson told The Hockey Paper. “Ellie sprinted back in the fourth quarter and we had a quick chuckle on the sideline that we couldn’t run that quickly in the first quarter.
“They are so athletic, so talented and they bring a new dimension to our team.”
England’s victory – on the anniversary of Team GB’s hockey gold in Rio – was the perfect hors d’oeuvre ahead of Sunday’s clash against Germany, the Olympic bronze medallists.
In between the goal flurry, England were given a scare when Elena Tice’s strike saw a dogged Ireland outfit rally at 2-1 down.
But it was only a brief respite, for England were full of attacking swagger as the match wore on.
— EuroHockey (@eurohockeyorg) August 19, 2017
“We are going to be absolulely lethal on the counter,” admitted Danson.
“We are good in our defence getting back and that is where hockey is going. It is going to be up and back, goals scored and it will be the team who can keep up with that pace [who will be successful].”
Whether or not that is England remains to be seen, given that the Olympic champions are playing in the Netherlands’ backyard and the world No.1 side buoyed on by 10,000 boisterous Oranje fans.
Ireland play Scotland also on Sunday after Gordon Shepherd’s side also lost 4-1, to Germany, in their opening game.
Meanwhile, England men return to the stadium which saw them to their 2009 European triumph when they take on Poland on Sunday morning.
Bobby Crutchley’s side should get off to a winning start against the world No 20 side before they tackle Germany on Monday.