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Britain earns bronze for first field hockey medal in 20 years

Great Britain's women's field hockey team earned its first Olympic medal in 20 years, besting New Zealand in Friday's bronze medal match.

Following a scoreless first half, the British netted the first three goals of the match and posted a 3-1 victory, claiming their first medal in this event since the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Alex Danson got the scoring started less than 10 minutes into the second half on a converted penalty corner. The match then went nearly another 14 minutes without a goal until Great Britain scored twice in a 4:04 span.

Crista Cullen made it a 2-0 game and Sarah Thomas added to the lead as both converted penalty corners.

"There was such emotion. We knew we still had something to fight for. We were not going to leave with nothing," said Cullen. "And the crowd carried us through. We knew we could win because of the crowd support. The second goal was a long time coming and I was the lucky one to score."

New Zealand didn't find the scoreboard until Stacey Michelsen's goal with 2:33 to play.

Great Britain was playing for a medal for the first time since finishing fourth at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"We were heartbroken after our semifinal (loss to Argentina). The team was devastated. People couldn't talk. They were absolutely gutted. Everything we dreamed of was that gold medal. We knew we couldn't get it, but we vowed that we weren't going to go home empty-handed," said Great Britain captain Kate Walsh, who finished up the Olympic tournament despite suffering a fractured jaw during pool play.

"We knew that we had the game. We knew that we had the mental capacity. We just had to put it all together."

Despite the fourth-place finish, New Zealand posted its best Olympic finish. It nearly guaranteed its first women's field hockey medal on Wednesday, but lost the first ever Olympic shootout contest on Wednesday against the Netherlands.

In early classification action, Australia shut out China to grab fifth place, while Belgium claimed 11th place with a win over the United States.

The gold medal match, set for later on Friday night, will pit defending Olympic champion Netherlands against former world champs Argentina.