After yet more shootout heroics in the Olympics, Maddie Hinch explained why she felt confident going into a do-or-die situation against Spain in the quarter-finals in Tokyo.
Hinch kept the Spanish side out on four occasions – with one retake – and was hugely impressive in securing a final four berth for Mark Hager’s side.
She rightly praised her team-mates as it was very much a squad effort, setting up a rerun of the Rio final against the Dutch at 2:30am on Wednesday morning UK time.
Hinch said, “As a ‘keeper I think you shouldn’t fear a penalty shootout as it’s a chance for you to do your part. I didn’t fear it today, I felt ready and that I’d done my homework. I could have let all five in or saved all five, that’s just how it goes, but it certainly helps when we’re putting them in the back of the net as well.
“I’m quietly confident in my ability to do it but it doesn’t always go like that. You’ve got to take it one shootout at a time, celebrate each save and get the hype going. All of that plays into the Spanish heads and I’m glad we didn’t have any more as I was getting a little tired!
“There’s a lot of homework that goes into it. I had a bit of an idea of what they might do. We actually lost to them as England in a shootout not too long ago and I knew what I did wrong there. It was really nice to get the win today. I’m really proud of the group.
“I’m quite relaxed going into a shootout, of course there are some nerves there, but I think they’re a good thing. 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 long as I have no regrets and I’ve given it my all and believe that I can save them all, then what will be will be.
“I definitely don’t feel invincible and I’m definitely not, I just enjoy shootouts. Honestly, we’ve lost a lot of them as well and I’ve just had a lot of experience in the moment. It’s just about not fearing it. As a goalkeeper it’s a pretty unforgiving position so you might as well enjoy these moments that you have and put it all out there and have no regrets.”
The team are continuing to build momentum into the final two matches, and Hinch can take confidence from how the group are growing: “What happened five years ago just shows that anything is possible. That group was ranked sixth or seventh in the world, we hadn’t won a huge amount, and we went on to win a gold medal. We’ve still got people in the group who know how to do it, and it was that one game at a time mentality. So, as exciting as it is, those ones that have done it, we just need to forget it and move on to the next one.
“I think, going into the semi-finals, there’s an advantage of maybe that it’s still in the back of the minds of the Dutch. I’m sure they’ll say it isn’t, but it probably still is a little bit. We gave them a bit of a scare in the group stages which is also really helpful, but the game is going to be tough. 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 having learned from that match. But you know what, we’re in the mix, we’ve just got to go out there and give it our all. I’m just so proud of what we’re delivering here and that’s the number one thing we wanted. We said we want to go home delivering what we’re delivering and if that gives us a medal then great, and if not then we can still be proud of what we’ve done.”