By The Hockey Paper | Antwerp
England coach Mark Hager said that he would ‘look deep’ into how to get his bruised side back up and running and fight for EuroHockey Championships bronze on Sunday.
England’s hammering was one of their worst performances in recent memory – a record women’s Euro semi-final defeat by any side – as Holland ran riot, scoring eight times in 43 minutes.
With seven Olympic champions in the side, they will now aim to summon all their grit, resolve and muscle to finish with a medal.
There was no hiding from this performance. England ventured into the Dutch circle just five times and couldn’t find a shot on goal. There was no PC either, and England’s plight was further scuppered by a video referral which didn’t go their way.
Holland, after two below-par opening games, didn’t break sweat and will now play Germany for gold. The Dutch will be going for their 10th European title.
Hager said: “I just thought they stepped it up another level, a free hit and they were off. We were reacting to that rather than proactive and got punished. We were poor.
“It’s a mindset thing. The speed of the game they played at we couldn’t match and eventually our one-on-one defence was poor. I can’t remember us making a clean elimination in the final third.”
Time after time, Maddie Hinch was left helpless and never had time to set herself up given the space afforded to the Dutch in the circle.
“I felt sorry for Maddie, we left her isolated one-on-one and for me it’s inexcusable the stuff we did,” said Hager.
After such a dispiriting defeat, England will surely be up to finish with a medal here. But so will Spain, after they fell short of a semi-final shoot-out when Germany scored a last-gasp PC with 50 seconds left.
“If this isn’t motivation [for bronze], I don’t know what is,” added Hager. “We should be embarrassed by that score line. I have to look deep to what to do to get them up.
“We started okay and let them score an easy goal running from the middle of the field and no one making a tackle. That’s just sacrilege.”
England have faced Spain four times in the last seven bronze medal matches at the Euros – and won all of them. This, however, will be the biggest test against a tough, resolute side.
England women last failed to medal at the Euros in 2003, a year when they also last beat Holland in normal time, without the aid of shoot-outs.