It was a day to remember for Great Britain’s teams as the senior women won gold and the men silver at the 2019 ECA Canoe Polo European Championships in Coimbra, Portugal.
Written by Adam Bailey
On a historic day, the women’s team became European Champions for the first time since 2011, while the men reached the European Championships final for the first time since 2005, completing a successful Championships for Great Britain.
After the Under 21 Women’s superb silver medal on Saturday, the senior women and men both reached their respective finals after semi-final victories over France and Poland, respectively.
In the semi-final against France Ginny Coyles continued her devastating form, scoring an overtime goal to send the GB women through to the final. Their semi-final victory came just an hour after the men beat Poland 7-2 to reach their first European final in 14 years.
Both teams faced Germany in the final, with the women’s final being a repeat of the World Championships final from last year.
On that occasion, Germany won 3-1 having taken an early lead, but in Portugal two years later, neither team could find the breakthrough in a goalless opening 10 minutes of end-to-end action.
Just 28 seconds after the restart, Great Britain were ahead. Ginny Coyles scoring with a brilliant backhand shot to score her 13th goal of the Championships and to give Great Britain the lead.
A minute-and-a-half later and the score was back level with Germany equalising from close-range to set-up a tense final eight minutes of action.
Both teams came close to scoring a second goal in regular time, but with neither team finding a way through the opposing defence, the score was level after the 20 minutes, forcing the final into golden goal overtime.
Forty-five seconds into overtime, Great Britain were awarded a penalty for a foul underneath the German goal. One-on-one with the German goalkeeper, Bethan Littlewood made no mistake, firing high past the ‘keeper’s paddle to secure Great Britain the victory and the European title.
An hour later it was the men’s turn and just as in the women’s final, neither team could find an early breakthrough as both defences held firm. Ross Montgomery looked dangerous throughout and with four minutes left of the first-half, the Viking paddler gave Great Britain an important lead.
Shivan McCutcheon – who was the hero in the semi-final, scoring four goals, including a hat-trick of long-range shots – was forced into two excellent saves at the end of the first-half to ensure Great Britain led at the halfway stage.
Germany equalised through a long-range strike with five minutes, 20 seconds to go. With both teams pushing for the winning goal, it looked like the men’s final would also go into overtime.
However, with 19 seconds to go, Germany scored, leaving Great Britain limited time to respond. It wasn’t to be for Dave Edwards’ side as Germany won 2-1 with GB claiming silver after a monumental effort by the British paddlers in the final.
The European Championships have been a great success for the British teams with the two senior medals coming 24 hours after the Under 21 Women’s superb silver which they claimed on Saturday.
It was also a promising Championships for the new-look Under 21 Men team who produced a number of positive performances, finishing 11th overall.