The steady hands of captain Madonna Blyth have ensured the Australian women’s team remain the force of Commonwealth Games hockey.
But it was the quick thinking of defender Jodie Kenny and goalkeeper Rachael Lynch that set up the Hockeyroos’ triumph 3-1 in penalties over England at Glasgow 2014.
The girls in green and gold have only missed the Commonwealth Games title once since the sport was introduced in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
That streak was in jeopardy with a minute to go and England, against the run of play, holding a 1-0 lead.
The Australians needed some luck and skill. With 16 seconds to go it came from Kenny.
Throughout the tournament Kenny has been the flick specialist from penalty corners.
However, as the Hockeyroos searched for the levelling goal in the dying moments the task was given to Anna Flanagan in bid to confuse the England defence.
Flanagan’s shot rebounded back into the shooting circle, Kenny pounced and fired the ball into the net.
Suddenly the Australians were alive again.
But they still needed to negotiate the penalty shoot-out. Kellie White and Kenny missed their opportunities but so did three opponents as Lynch, who had conceded just two goals in six matches, remained a ball block.
With their fifth attempt the Hockeyroos needed leadership and Blyth comfortably converted her opportunity. And her team remained Commonwealth Games champions, six weeks after finishing runners-up at the World Cup in the Netherlands.
“I thought we were doing it quite comfortably, we were creating quite a lot of chances and then you look up at the scoreboard and there are only a couple of minutes left,” Blyth said.
“To the girls’ credit we stuck it out and scoring with about 10 seconds is nerve-racking but it is part of the game and we love it.”
Blyth is normally given the task of leading the Australians in the penalty shoot-out.
However, for the final coach Adam Commens rearranged the line-up. But he also had faith that Lynch could do her defensive job after showing her form during the World Cup.
“I’ve been involved with shoot-outs and penalty strokes but I’ve never been the last person to do it,” Blyth said.
“It is a different feeling. That feeling of running back to celebrate with your teammates is a pretty unbelievable.”