Maddie Hinch suspects her shootout heroics five years ago may still be preying on Holland’s minds after another standout performance kept Great Britain’s hopes of retaining their women’s Olympic hockey title alive.
The Dutch were unable to find a way past Hinch in an epic Rio 2016 final which went to penalties and Britain were once again grateful for their star goalkeeper after a 2-2 draw against Spain on a hot and sticky night in Tokyo.
Hinch kept her cool in this quarter-final, saving every penalty attempt while successful efforts from Hannah Martin and Sarah Jones secured a 2-0 victory for Britain, setting up a mouthwatering showdown against Holland on Wednesday.
Britain are a much-changed outfit since their success in Brazil – only Hinch and five others who were part of that triumph have made the trip to Japan – and Holland hold an edge after prevailing 1-0 in their group stage meeting.
But as she reflected on the last high-profile showdown between the teams, Hinch said: “It’s just an advantage (to us) that it’s still in the back of the minds of the Dutch, I’m sure they’ll say it’s not but it still probably is a little bit.
“The best bit is we gave them a bit of a scare in the group stages and I think that is also pretty helpful.
“It’s going to be tough and we’re going to have to look at why we didn’t get a result there, what we need to do better because they’re going to be better, they’ll have learned a lot from that game.
“You know what, we’re in the mix. We’re just going to go out there and give it our all. We’ve got people in the group that know how to do it.”
Martin put Britain ahead on Monday night with a superb solo goal, jinking past two defenders and then nutmegging Spain goalkeeper Maria Ruiz, but Belen Iglesias equalised towards the end of the first half.
Grace Balsdon lofted into the top corner after the break but the defending champions were once again pegged back as they were unable to clear their lines from a loose ball, allowing Berta Bonastre to lift over Hinch.
Hinch, though, saved from Clara Ycart, Begona Garcia and Georgina Oliva in the shootout to put Britain in the ascendancy. An accidental contact on Beatriz Perez allowed the Spaniard a retake but she missed again.
“I don’t feel invincible, definitely not,” Hinch added. “I just enjoy them. As a goalkeeper it’s a pretty unforgiving position so you might as well enjoy these moments you have, put it all out there and have no regrets.
“I’m quite relaxed – of course I’m a little nervous, I think nerves are a good thing, but I don’t feel like I have anything to lose, I’m not trying to prove anything, I’m just trying to do my job.
“As a keeper I think you shouldn’t fear them, it’s just a chance for you to do your part.”