England produced a brilliant second-half performance to see off a skilled Czech Republic side 16-10 and book a place in the European Championship final.
The match was evenly poised as the teams went into the half at 7-7, but a five-goal run in the third quarter swung the game in England’s favour and they held on to the advantage until the final whistle.
The win, in which England legend Lucy Lynch made her landmark 100th appearance for England, now sets up a final against hosts Israel on Thursday after they defeated Wales in the other semi-final.
Czech Republic came into the game off the back of a two-goal victory over Ireland to make the semi-final, while England had the advantage of an extra day’s rest after earning #1 seeding from the pool stage.
And it was England who got off to the better start, Torz Anderson and Megan Whittle both scoring in the opening two minutes.
However, the Czechs, who had scored 96 goals before this match, were very lively in attack, moving the England defence around to create scoring chances and combined with with a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes, levelled the game from 3-1 down.
It was only a piece of magic from Alex Drewe, producing a gorgeous inside roll and evading a couple of defenders to score that gave England the lead at 1/4 time.
The second quarter continued much in the same vain, with decent spells for both sides, England opening up leads at 6-4 and 7-5, before the Czech Republic fought back, proving extremely clinical with their opportunities, and England were happy to get to half-time level at 7-7 and regroup.
After the interval, England’s desire to step it up and make amends was evident right from the off.
England had dominated the draw in the first half but hadn’t made the dominance count for much, with Hayes and Wimpenny having the better of the Czechs.
However, a devastating spell at the start of the third quarter transformed the match as they held the ball for a full 10 minutes continually picking up wins off the draw to launch attack after attack.
Whittle, Anderson, Tilly Foster, Tilly Shires, Camilla Hayes all scored in a dominant 10-minute period of pressure that took the wind out of Czech Republic and got England on track to the final.
The scoring streak continued into the final quarter, Jenny Simpson assisting both Drewe and Shires for goals, and despite the Czech Republic finally ending the run with a couple goals of their own, the damage had been done.
And when Claire Faram scored England’s 16th, she became her side’s 10th goalscorer of the match, demonstrating the strength in depth and ability to score from multiple options which ultimately proved crucial.
England then ran down the last two minutes with the score at 16-10 and sealed to return to the European Championship final seeing of the Czech Republic.
Tomorrow’s final against Israel gets underway at 5.40pm UK Time, with the game streamed at www.olympicchannel.com
England Points: Jenny Simpson (1,4), Alex Drewe (3,0), Megan Whittle (3,0), Torz Anderson (2,1), Tilly Shires (2,0), Emily Gray (1,1), Liv Wimpenny (1,0), Tilly Foster (1,0), Camilla Hayes (1,0), Claire Faram (1,0)