England 2 Australia 1
Lily Owsley recalled the days looking at Old Joe, the university clock tower, wondering when Thursday night club training would end. Holly Hunt leapt like a graduate on scoring England’s opener. Lily Walker had even purchased tickets for these Commonwealth Games before her senior call-up.
This was a women’s final where former and current University of Birmingham students combined to master a battle-weary Australia in one of England’s finest performances.
After 24 years and three silvers, England women, inspired by good-luck messages from the Lionesses, won their first Commonwealth Games title in a largely Sunday stroll of a final, beating the four-time champions 2-1. Two open-play, first-half goals in four minutes from Hunt and Tess Howard also paved the way for England’s first major title in seven years in front of a sun-soaked 6,000 sell-out crowd.
It was not supposed to be like this, not for a team who came together only in January. There were nervy moments, though, as Australia mounted late circle penetration before Rosie Malone’s corner-rebound goal 20 seconds from the end.
“A team that good, you have to fight fire with fire and our head coach [David Ralph] said you have to take the first swing and keep swinging,” said Owsley. “If you set off and let them run they will keep on coming. We got ourselves over the line and it was a dominating performance.”