GB finish with a win, draw and loss in San Diego

Laura Unsworth in action for Great Britain women v USA, San Diego, December 2011

The Great Britain women's centralised training squad have been out in San Diego at the USA Olympic Training Centre taking part in a warm-weather training camp. Across the two weeks the team have played three capped matches against the USA and New Zealand (2) as Head Coach Jason Lee continues to work to develop the broader Great Britain squad.

The tournament provided senior international debuts for newcomers to the centralised training squad Grace Balsden of Canterbury and Zoe Shipperley of Buckingham. Suzy Petty, although not currently on the centralised programme, also had a dream start to her senior international career as she scored to pull her side back level with the USA in the first match.

The results from the three matches were mixed for Lee’s side as they played out some close encounters with a victory and a loss to New Zealand and a draw with the USA. Further information about the matches, including scorers and comments from Lee, is available below.

Match 1

England 2 (1)
Alex Danson 8 (FG)
Suzy Petty 43 (PC)

USA 2 (2)
Melissa Gonzalez 22 (FG)
Katie O'Donnell 28 (FG)

Following practice matches against the USA and New Zealand Great Britain’s first capped game was against world number 10 side the USA.

In a fast paced match Great Britain took the lead when Reading’s Alex Danson characteristically scored an opportunist goal from close range in the eighth minute. USA equalised in the 23rd minute when Melissa Gonzalez’ shot flew low into the far corner of the net past Kirsty Mackay. Six minutes later they had gone ahead when Kathleen O’Donnell pounced on a loose ball at the top of the circle and slammed it into the goal to take her side in with a goal advantage at half-time.

Great Britain fought back strongly and Beeston’s Suzy Petty was well positioned to score her first senior international goal from a rebound off a penalty corner after an initial shot from Danson had forced a save from the USA keeper.

Speaking after the game Head Coach, Jason Lee, said: “This was a committed effort from the girls and great to see a decent international debut by Canterbury’s Grace Balsdon and a first senior international goal by Suzy Petty.”

Squad v USA:
Kirsty Mackay (GK)
Kate Richardson-Walsh
Grace Balsdon
Suzy Petty
Giselle Ansley
Sarah Haycroft
Emily Maguire
Laura Unsworth
Hannah Macleod
Alex Danson
Ashleigh Ball
Helen Richardson-Walsh
Ellie Watton
Shona McCallin
Lily Owsley
Alison Bell
Rebecca Herbert


Match 2

Great Britain 2 (0)
Nikki Kidd 57 (PC)
Hollie Webb 60 (PC)

New Zealand 1 (1)
Anita Punt 26 (PC)

Lee took another opportunity to rotate his squad of 32 athletes in the 2-1 victory over New Zealand and once again the selection showed resilience and growth, coming back from a 0-1 deficit at half-time to win 2-1 with penalty corner goals from Nikki Kidd and Hollie Webb.

New Zealand went ahead in the 26th minute when a drag flicked penalty corner by Anita Punt deceived Maddie Hinch in the Great Britain goal. New Zealand pressed strongly towards half time and Hinch was called upon to make a series of saves to keep her side from falling further behind before the interval.

The second half saw Great Britain regroup; Steph Elliott came close with an effort which was just denied by the New Zealand keeper. The persistent pressure paid off in the 57th minute when Nikki Kidd struck the ball strongly to score from a penalty corner to give her a first goal for Great Britain. Three minutes later, Hollie Webb added a first goal to her GB account as well after she flicked the ball low to the keeper’s left at another penalty corner to score what proved to be the winning goal.

Speaking after the game Head Coach, Jason Lee, said: “A solid debut by Buckingham’s Zoe Shipperley contributing to a resilient team performance. This match reflects continuous improvement through the tour for the squad. Of the five matches played so far [including the training games], most have taken part in at least three, giving opportunity and experience to the entire squad.”

Squad v NZL:
Maddie Hinch (GK)
Zoe Shipperley
Hollie Webb
Jo Leigh
Sam Quek
Sally Walton
Laura Unsworth
Georgie Twigg
Susannah Townsend
Morag McClellan
Susie Gilbert
Nicola White
Hannah Macleod
Alex Danson
Sophie Bray
Nikki Kidd
Steph Elliott


Match 3

New Zealand 1 (1)
Anita Punt 32 (FG)

Great Britain 0 (0)

In their final capped game of the series Great Britain faced New Zealand again, however this time the tables were turned and it was the world number five side that came away with the spoils. It was a close and competitive encounter which saw only one goal scored in very hot conditions at the Olympic Training Centre, San Diego.

In a tight first half, it was Anita Punt who broke the deadlock with a 32nd minute deflection past Kirsty Mackay in Great Britain’s goal.

Both sides had chances in the first half, and this continued in the second with Lee’s side unable to equalise and New Zealand unable to increase their lead. Mackay was substituted with seven minutes to go [kicking back replacing goalkeeper] and the extra field player nearly paid dividends with Great Britain coming close from a penalty corner and narrowly missing a field goal as the ball flashed across goal from a powerful Laura Unsworth cross. Great Britain survived a late penalty corner without a goalkeeper and forced another corner themselves on full time. The resulting effort from Zoe Shipperley was deflected onto the crossbar and out to leave the Kiwis narrow winners.

Great Britain ended the San Diego test series with a win (NZ), a draw (USA) and a loss (NZ).

Speaking after the three matches Lee said: “We have seen steady improvement in our play throughout the two weeks here and many of the less experienced athletes have impressed in tough, tight matches. This has been a really useful trip to bond and develop our squad and accelerate our progress moving forward.”

Squad v NZL:
Kirsty Mackay (GK)
Laura Unsworth
Ali Bell
Nikki Kidd
Susie Gilbert
Kate Richardson-Walsh
Nicola White
Sam Quek
Emily Maguire
Alex Danson
Grace Balsdon
Zoe Shipperley
Hannah Macleod
Ashleigh Ball
Sally Walton
Ellie Watton
Becky Herbert


GB Women Training Matches - schedule and results

Date              Time (UK)    Teams         Result
10 February     22:00           USA – GBR    2-2 (2-1)
11 February     22:00           NZL – GBR     1-2 (1-0)
12 February     22:00           USA – NZL     3-3 (1-0)
14 February     22:00           NZL – GBR     1-0 (1-0)
15 February     22:00           USA – NZL     2-2 (1-2)
17 February     19:30           NZL – USA      *

For results of the final two matches please check here following the conclusion of the tournament.