Birmingham — It was all about instinct for Maddie Hinch. The homework had been done, that much was clear by the way she guarded, stood and moved with each Kiwi shoot-out attempt. Yet, New Zealand have been off the scene and the note-taking was limit. This was her moment to stand tall and thrive.
There were no slips up from Hinch, 34 in October, in her ‘banana suit’, as she saved three and made sure the opening shoot-out evaded the net. Now will line up for a second Commonwealth Games final on ‘Super Sunday’.
Gold along with World Cup success are the two missing titles on her palmarès.
“I’m definitely towards the back end of my career now so this is definitely something I’ve been so desperately wanting my whole career,” she said.
The final will also hopefull have added gloss for the home nation. Birmingham organisers have constructed a women’s sport programme by putting the women’s hockey, cricket and netball finals on the same afternoon. England hockey have struck part 1 of the vision.
“I’ve been so close to it a couple of times, so I really hope it goes our way but whatever the outcome, as long as we put out an incredible 60-minute performance we can be really proud of what we’ve achieved already here.”
The shoot-out drama enriched an otherwise drab semi-final at the University of Birmingham. The shoot-out efforts weren’t the best either, whether it was the occasion or just the power of Hinch in England’s goal.
She added: “Those kind of occasions are what keepers want to be a part of because it is incredible. To do it on a platform like that and with that home crowd it really does give us that bit of extra belief. I enjoyed it and tried to go out there with no regrets. It’s a lottery those things sometimes.”
Once again, the plaudits went to Hinch, despite not knowing much of the Kiwi takers, given they hadn’t played a major tournament since Tokyo. She also admitted afterwards that she had been on the losing end of several shoot-outs since her Rio heroics, a performance she is still getting used to being billed as the wonder keeper.
“It’s very weird. I’m definitely someone who likes to stay in the background. I think it’s these banana suits,” she joked.
If Hinch’s yellow put her at the forefront, it was relief which got England up and running in the shoot-out when Izzy Petter finally got the scoreboard ticking in the sixth attempt, before Hannah Martin’s winner.
Petter said: “My heart was racing. It was the first time I’ve taken one in a big moment which is always quite scary. But I thought now is the time to do it, it is my moment. I stepped up and I was very relieved.
“Maddie gives us such confidence going in. She is known for it. She stepped up and she was unbelievable. She had a huge huge part to play.”
Once the celebrations had died down, there was renewed focus from captain Hollie Pearne-Webb as they set their eyes on Australia, which will be a repeat of the 2014 final in Glasgow, won on a, yes, shoot-out by the Roos.
“We had a little circle and Hollie was saying ‘Next thing is the final, we have to recover well, we’ve got one more game and we could make history.’ It’s really exciting.
“We want it so bad, when you have a crowd like that behind you it means so much more. it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”