Sophie Bray was quick to praise the side’s newest recruits as England set up a semi-final showdown with New Zealand at the Hockey World League Final.
Bray scored twice as England held on to triumph 2-1 against the USA, scoring her first after only seven minutes played.
She later struck again in the third quarter after good work from captain Alex Danson and Livy Paige.
Danny Kerry’s side will now face the hosts in the semi-finals and, having now scored in consecutive games, Bray couldn’t be happier to see England improving with each game in Auckland.
“As a striker you want to score goals and when they don’t come it is frustrating as you want to help the team. It’s just a case of patience and waiting,” said Bray.
“To be fair both goals were just a case of being in the right place at the right time. They both came after some fantastic build up play and I just had to turn the ball into the net.
“It’s really exciting to see the young ones come in with the new energy and it’s really enjoyable to play with them and watch them grow.”
Lily Owsley shone for England in the opening stages of the game, splitting the American defence in two to feed in Laura Unsworth whose strike was saved.
Bray could have opened the scoring even earlier than she did, Owsley finding to fail her teammate after a great run down the baseline.
But she capitalised on an identical opportunity minutes later, Danson the feeder on this occasion as Bray deflected her cross in.
Hollie Pearne-Webb came close to doubling England’s lead in the 12th minute, with Maddie Hinch required to keep the USA’s Michelle Vittese at bay moments before the interval.
The Americans had several more chances after the break but Hinch stood firm between the sticks, and it paid off when Bray notched her second, knocking in Paige’s cross.
Danson almost added a third with a diving effort at the start of the final quarter, before Alyssa Parker pulled back a consolation for the USA, smashing in a penalty corner past Hinch.
But a defiant England held on for the win, and their captain is already counting down the seconds until they take to the pitch against to face their hosts.
“We’re delighted with that performance. We had to battle hard at the end but we’re delighted that we came through it,” said Danson.
“It was a really professional performance tonight. We had a lot of control against a very good American team who are very physical and very quick so we’re very happy with the win.
“It’s fantastic to be here in New Zealand and to have the opportunity to play against the host nation will be special for us. It’s going to be a fantastic game.”