Birmingham — England women’s Maddie Hinch expects another home nations tussle against Wales in their last group game before the semi-finals and a likely match-up with New Zealand.
England will still be smarting from their pool stage defeat at the World Cup last month. They were so on top in that game, that it was somewhat in disbelief that Hollie Pearne-Webb and Co came off wondering where their 3-1 defeat came from.
Here at the university, they have been steady without being ruthless through four quarters. They will need to be clinical against Wales and then show title form if they have aspirations of a first gold at the Games.
“We’ve played some of our best in patches, but we haven’t done it for 60 minutes,” said Hinch.
“To win this thing we’re going to need to do that at some point, but the main thing is we’re building. When we play at our best it’s very exciting.”
Hinch knows that a packed crowd and with free-flowing hockey on their side could be just the ticket to success.
“The crowd was amazing, it really does make a difference,” added Hinch. “I kick a ball and they all get excited, and that gets me excited.
“Every time I play Wales it’s feisty, it’s not pretty, it’s a classic home nations battle – I expect nothing less.”
“It’s always the same, they always nick a goal, it’s always really close, and it’s always a tricky one. There’s so much passion there from both home nations.”
This game will not be a chance to take it easy. “We cannot afford to just take our foot off the gas because we know we’ve got a semifinal spot,” added Hinch. “We need to keep the momentum going, because my goodness once we find ourselves in the semis we’re going to have to play at a better level than we did [against India].”