Maddie Hinch produced the heroics once more as Great Britain completed the perfect tournament, saving three times in a shoot-out to beat the Netherlands 2-0 after normal time had ended 3-3.
It ended the Dutch reign at the Olympics, denying them three in-a-row as GB claimed their first ever title in the competition, repeating their dramatic win over the Dutch from last August’s Europeans.
For the most part, the Dutch had the vast majority of the play, winning eight corners to two and running up 17 shots to seven. But the most important statistic went against them as GB battled their way to a shoot-out and ultimately prevailed with Helen Richardson-Walsh scoring from a stroke and Hollie Webb sealing the deal in the fifth round.
The first half was played at an incredible tempo with chances and drama throughout. Just six minutes in, Maartje Paumen had the first major chance but saw her penalty stroke – designed to wrong-foot the goalkeeper – was denied by Maddie Hinch standing tall.
GB went in front when Sophie Bray’s 3D skills saw her beat a number of defenders and while her shot was saved, Lily Owsley was able to pot the rebound from close range for 1-0.
Hinch was required to keep out a couple of further chances before the end of the first quarter before Kate Richardson-Walsh got a key touch to deny Naomi van As’s stunning run and shot.
The Dutch were level early in the second quarter when Lidewij Welten nicked the ball on haflway and dropped the ball under her arm to Kitty van Male. She rounded Hinch before firing a backhand shot into the roof of the net.
Van As was proving near unplayable at times, clipping the sideboard with her next shot while a rising reverse of hers hit the cross-bar, too. The oranje notched up four penalty corners and, from the fourth, they went in front courtesy of an old-fashioned hit from Paumen that had too much pace for the post-woman.
But GB were efficient – scoring from their two shots in the first half – and were level by the big break when Owsley nicked possession in the circle and fed Crista Cullen who coolly slotted past Joyce Sombroek for 2-2.
The Dutch continued to pile forward in the third quarter, running up another four corners and six more shots with GB unable to register on either count. From the seventh Netherlands’ corner, Caia van Maasakker disguised her pass to the injector van Male who redirected the ball into the goal.
But, for all their pressure, they were unable to advance their scoring. GB, meanwhile, earned their first corner with nine minutes to go thanks to Susannah Townsend’s surge down the right which ended with a foul on Owsley.
Alex Danson’s deflection was stopped on the line but another corner followed immediately. This time, the rebound fell to Nicola White who finished well from close range.
From there, neither side had any major chances of note as the Dutch held all the ball but found no way through the GB defences who protected their circle brilliantly, leading to the shoot-out.
It took three rounds until either goalkeeper was beaten with Joyce Sombroek and Hinch saving each. The key moment came when Sombroek took down Sophie Bray and Helen Richardson-Walsh stood up to score the ensuing stroke.
More saves followed before Margot van Geffen hit the post with her shot allowing Webb to step up and score, showing immense composure in a pressure situation to snatch the victory.