England retained their European title with a brilliant 10-7 win against hosts Israel in the Gold Medal match in Netanya.
The champions led all the way through and despite Israel making it a one-goal game midway through the third quarter, England pulled away in the closing stages to secure the win.
It rounded off a magical undefeated Championship, downing Israel to claim a third successive European Gold after victories in 2012 and 2015.
In front of a passionate home support, England got on the front foot immediately with Camilla Hayes claiming the opening draw, before Torz Anderson ended an early settled possession with a lovely inside roll and finish for the game’s first goal.
However, as Hayes ran away with her second clean draw control, she pulled up and had to be helped off the field.
Such has been Hayes’ influence dominating the draw all Championship, she was named to the All-star European team, and England had to find a way to now without her.
It didn’t hamper England’s fast start though, and once Anderson had assisted Liv Wimpenny to score, and Megan Whittle powered home after a long possession, England were 3-0 up after 10 minutes.
However, the mid-quarter water break seemed to stunt the momentum and goals from Emily Resnick and Macellen McDonough made it 3-2 at the 1/4 time.
The action was fiercely competitive and both teams were fighting tooth and nail for every loose ball.
Alex Drewe and Alison Curwin both picked up yellow cards for England and Israel respectively at the start of Q2, but with tensions high, neither team were able to convert on their opportunities.
England remained patient and continued to look for the right openings, with both Claire Faram and Whittle driving hard from the top beating their defender one-on-one to give their side breathing space once more.
But Resnick scored her second just before the half to make it 5-3 and keep it close.
Wimpenny got a second and extended the lead at the start of the second-half, before Israel put down their best run of the game to really put the pressure on.
The dangerous Resnick finally broke through the resolute defence on a long possession, before a clean draw win allowed Resnick to feed Curwin on the crease and close things up to just 6-5.
This time around though, the mid-quarter drinks break worked to England’s benefit. After a strong defensive set forcing a turnover, Anderson stepped up again with a delightful inside roll and shot high across the goalie from a tight angle.
Time and again, England had shown their steel and stamina into the last quarter of matches and it was to prove crucial in the final.
A save from Lucy Grant at the start of the quarter from a McDonough free position, kept the scores at 7-5, before Megan Whittle produced a minute of magic to put England in touching distance.
First she took a feed on the crease from Faram on a free position, faked high-to-low to score, before the play of the game to show just why Whittle was named to the All-star European team.
After being fouled on the restrainer competing for a loose ball, with all the Israeli defenders pushed up high, she utilised the self-start to perfection catching everyone off guard and running unopposed to goal to make it 9-5.
To Israel’s credit, they kept pushing, Resnick with another two goals giving her five for the match in what was ultimately to be a losing effort as the England defence stood up to repel any further attacks.
And it was fitting that Whittle rounded off the scoring, with England running down the clock, she took the opportunity to drive through the defence for one more goal and soon after the celebrations could begin with the game finishing 10-7 and England being crowned European Champions for a seventh time.
England Points:Megan Whittle (5,0) Torz Anderson (2,1), Liv Wimpenny (2,0), Claire Faram (1,0)
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