Giselle Ansley: "I donít think Iíve ever cried like that after a game"

Ellie Rayer v Ned HWC2018
Facing the Dutch is an exciting prospect at the best of times but when it’s a quarter-final of a home World Cup, it’s possibly the most thrilling tie you can expect to be part of.

That’s exactly what England had to look forward to at the 2018 Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup as they came up against the reigning champions in the last eight.

Alyson Annan’s team had been in imperious form in the group stages – scoring an incredible 26 goals in just three matches – but England knew that meant nothing. This was knockout hockey; anything could happen.

Looking back at the previous clashes between the two only sought to intensify the thrilling nature of the game. England famously beat the Dutch in a shootout to win the 2015 European gold medal and had won by the same method to reach the final of the same competition two years earlier.

They’d also come back from two goals down to draw a thrilling Investec International at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre the year before before only a late Marloes Keetels goal saw the Dutch win their EuroHockey Championships semi-final two months later.

As Giselle Ansley and Ellie Rayer explained in the latest episode of #InsideTheCircle: The Podcast, they went into the fixture knowing they could make it to the semi-finals.

“We had genuinely belief we could beat them in that moment,” Olympic gold medallist Ansley explained. 

“We had a good record against them over the last couple of years, although we’d lost the 2017 European final to them. But we still had the belief because we performed really, really well in that game. 

“If you want to win you’ve got to play and beat everyone and at the time it was another team to just go out and play against.”

Rayer added: “These are the moments we train for. We know it’s not always going to be easy but the grit and the belief and the fighting spirit is something that we showed in abundance. 

“Yeah we’d made it a bit harder for ourselves but we thought that there was no stopping us. We wanted to go out and give our all.”

Despite a huge effort, things didn’t go England’s way on this occasion as The Netherlands emerged 2-0 victors.

That meant England were knocked out of their home World Cup and were unable to achieve a medal. The players were devastated.

Ansley said: “I was absolutely gutted. I don’t normally show very much emotion after games on the pitch but I just couldn’t not. I don’t think I’ve ever cried like that after a game. 

“Danny [Kerry] had never seen that from me either. I remember him coming over to me, giving me a hug and saying ‘it’s ok’. That just had never happened before.”

Rayer added: “We’d been on such a rollercoaster and it was such an incredible home event put on. We were gutted and we were gutted for everyone around us as well. 

“There was so much support behind us, so many people had given so much for us and it was almost a feeling of that we’d let them down. 

“Obviously that’s not how we wanted it to end but because of how big it was it felt as though we’d let down more than just ourselves, it was the 10,000 people in the crowd and every single person behind the scenes that had supported. We were just sorry.” 

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