Megan Whittle scored an incredible golden goal winner to beat Australia 10-9 and secure England a bronze medal at the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women’s Lacrosse World Cup.
After the game finished 9-9 in normal time, Whittle fired home to send the home crowd into raptures and win a first bronze medal for England since 2005.
Australia got the game going with Rebecca Lane rolling the crease unopposed before Sophie Brett levelled things from a free position.
The Aussies had a lot of joy early on working the crease with Hannah Nielsen particularly influential as they went on a three-goal streak to put themselves in a commanding position, Hiron, Burgess and Nielsen herself all on the scoresheet before Laura Merrifield got one in reply.
At 2-4, Phil Collier called a timeout to regroup his team and after the break, England’s defence was vastly improved giving Australia very little to work with.
Hiron and Nielsen did add two more, with Lafferty getting one back, but at 6-3 England had plenty of work to do at the half.
England started the half well, Jenny Simpson initially missing a feed from Hompe but pushing it over the line at the second attempt and when Torz Anderson picked out Lucy Lynch’s intelligent cut the deficit was only one.
The momentum seemed to be well and truly in England’s favour, but when Merrifield was yellow carded for a dangerous follow through on a blind attempt, Australia made them pay.
Burgess added a goal on the player up, and when Nielsen and Sarah Mollison both scored within a 30-second period to make it 9-5, it looked an uphill struggle for England.
However, game MVP Hompe (3G) then took centre stage to star in a 15-minute burst that will live long in the memories.
A great ride from Hompe to dispossess the Australian defence led to Simpson’s second goal that was the beginning of the memorable comeback.
First Hompe drove from X, rolled the crease and finished, then after a crease violation and with no passing options, squeezed it in from an impossible angle to make it 9-8.
Then with just two minutes to go, Hompe came up with an ingenious finish; with her back to goal, under pressure, she flicked the ball low, outfoxing Hinkes in goal and drawing England level.
England actually had a glorious opportunity to win it in normal time, as after a great passing move, Hayes appeared free right in front of goal but missed the feed to score and the goal continued into overtime.
Tensions were high and nerves seemed to spread through the two sides as neither could find the winning goal. Hompe for England and then Lane and Mollison for Australia all spurned good chances.
England’s defence in the overtime periods was particularly impressive as Australia slowed the game down, Nielsen holding the ball at X looking a for a hole in the defence but England were resolute throughout providing nothing to take advantage of.
And it was Megan Whittle, after nearly 12 minutes of overtime, who scored the deciding goal to win the game for England.
Whittle drove to goal but was fouled and as the ball dropped out Jenny Simpson caught the loose ball and shovelled it past the goalie to set off what turned out to be premature celebrations as the officials pulled it back for the foul.
It was then up to Whittle who composed herself for the FPS and rifled the ball high above Hinkes’ stick, sparking wild scenes on the pitch and in the stands.