A Ghost goal ultimately proved the undoing of Scotland women’s hockey team in their bid for history at the Commonwealth Games, according to head coach Chris Duncan.
Scotland punched above their weight once again in their final Pool B game, pushing Australia all the way before losing 2-0 at the University of Birmingham to end their medal ambitions.
But their fate could have been so much different had Jen Eadie’s equaliser from a penalty against New Zealand not been ruled out on referral due to the ball not leaving the circle.
That left Duncan wondering what might have been after Scotland’s defeat put the semi-finals out of their reach, with the head coach insisting they did not get the rub of the green.
“That’s the one that hurts,” said Duncan. “I think it will hurt for a long time. I thought we played beautifully; we were playing more positive on the ball than a Scottish team had in years.
“We created lots of chances and lots of corners - and we scored. I think we all know that I think everyone in the hockey world now acknowledges that we did score.
“It got chalked off and that knocked the stuffing out of us. You need the rub of the green of the decisions at this level and we didn’t quite get it, that leaves a sour taste.”
He continued: “I think we’re in a big phase in terms of the whole organisation, in terms of re-setting what we’re about and who we are and what we want to try and do.
“We’ve come out here and shown a fresh style that we want to portray to the world, and we want to be one of the world’s top ten nations, up there kicking it with the big boys.
“I think we can reflect on this saying we’ve done that. There’s a lot of people talking about how we’re playing and giving us compliments in terms of what we’re doing.”
This summer, Team Scotland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, compromises of over 250 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Scotland’s women, ranked 17th in the world, opened their campaign with a 4-2 victory over South Africa before No.8 side New Zealand edged past them in controversial fashion in Birmingham.
A thumping 11-0 victory over Kenya kept alive their hopes of a first semi-final appearance but the narrow defeat to Australia, ranked third in the world, means the best they can finish is fifth.
“We spoke long and hard before we came that we didn’t want to make up the numbers and whilst we knew we were playing against two of the world’s top sides in our pool we knew we wanted to get to the semi-finals and do what no Scottish side has ever done before,” Duncan added.
“We’ll go back, we’ll learn from it, we’ll review it. I don’t think we could have done anymore, and we played, for what it’s worth, four great games and we put out what we could do.”
Scotland captain and Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Robertson is competing at her third Commonwealth Games and echoed Duncan’s bittersweet reflections on the campaign.
“We’re disappointed,” said the 28-year-old. “That was our opportunity to make it to the semi-finals, but we left ourselves a tough task to beat one of the top sides in the world.
“Probably against New Zealand earlier in the group was where we could have picked up some points, but we’re gutted after that. I think we’ve come here and performed, played well.
“Obviously, we wanted to come to Birmingham and do something special, make a semi-final and win a medal, and we’d be punching above our wait to do that.
“But we put in a lot of preparation to get to that point so bigger picture, we’ll be pleased with how we’ve come and done here but at the moment we’re just disappointed.”
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