Hockey star Tess Howard thinks teams will be terrified of England if they can improve their consistency at the Commonwealth Games.
Howard scored a terrific diving deflection as England rode through a tough test to beat India 3-1 in Birmingham.
The Cambridge-born striker was a constant threat throughout a game in which England had to defend for long periods, and the East Grinstead player hailed her steel backline crew.
“Our identity is becoming really tough defense and then really ruthless on offense and I think we’ve shown that,” said Howard, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes of the world-class program funded by the UK Sport National Lottery. allowing them to train full-time, have access to the best trainers in the world, and benefit from state-of-the-art technology, science, and medical support.
“Consistency is the thing we are working on and the other teams have to be careful.
“It was a great moment for us to leave our mark on the tournament.
“It’s history that no English team has ever won the Commonwealth Games three times in a row, so it’s just a marker of what we can do here.”
England got off to the best possible start in front of a raucous crowd at the University of Birmingham, as Giselle Ansley ruthlessly converted from a penalty corner after just three minutes.
But it wasn’t all easy for the hosts as India fought back and almost equalized immediately after Anna Toman nearly turned into her own net, forcing goalkeeper Maddie Hinch into an evasive action.
Hinch was then called further in two penalty corner saves before the break, with a third going just wide.
“If you had said that [we would win 3-1] before the game we would have been very happy,” Howard said.
“In some parts of the game we went deep in defense and had to overcome the pressure.
“Maddie made an incredible save off the line early on, it gave us all a boost to keep putting the pressure on.”
Howard then added a crucial second after the break as the team were watched by the Earl and Countess of Wessex, as well as the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte.
“I didn’t know they were here, so it was a really nice surprise,” Howard added.
“He’s one of those that you dream about in training and try to execute. As soon as Sophie recovered the ball, I said to myself ‘it’s going to be crossed, I’m going to have to dive’ and it went for the goal.
The England team were roared by a vocal crowd, and Howard is still enjoying the strength of the support.
“You can’t really put words to it,” she said.
“The English crowd really helped, family and friends in the crowd, and then you have your coaches and your teammates, and you really do it for them.”
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