The Vantage Black Sticks have gone down in a tough battle with Argentina 3-0. The game was closer than the result suggested as both teams had some fantastic early chances. In the end Argentina was the more clinical team in front of goal which saw them secure the 3 points and take them to 6 points and top place in Pool A with one round to go.
The first quarter was incredibly exciting with both teams having several opportunities but neither side was able to capitalise. The Vantage Black Sticks threw an overhead off the opening hit off which Stephen Jenness received at the top of the circle and shot at goal to nearly replicate their second goal from the first game. Despite some great attacking hockey in the opening quarter neither team was able to break the deadlock and we ended the 1st quarter tied at 0-0.
The second quarter started as frantically as the first with both sides constructing great scoring chances. The Vantage Black Sticks had their first penalty corner of the Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup. Kane Russell stepped up and drag flicked however Argentinas Juan Vivaldi made a great save to keep the score tied at nil. With ten minutes gone in the second quarter Gonzalo Peillat drove a powerful ball into the circle that found Agustin Mazzilli and he trapped it on his reverse and ripped a shot past Richard Joyce. The shot meant that Argentina was going to play the game from in front. There was no change to the score as both sides went into the sheds at half time having played some great positive hockey. Argentina had the lead at the half 1-0.
Argentina looked strong at the start of the 3rd quarter and had the first real opportunity of the second half when they drove baseline and earned a penalty corner. Vantage Black Sticks goal keeper Richard Joyce stepped up again and shut down another Gonzalo Peillat drag flick to keep the score at 1-0. The Vantage Black Sticks were struggling to bring the ball out of defence and Argentina took the opportunity and dispossessed Vantage Black Sticks Captain Blair Tarrant at the top of the circle and sent a powerful forehand shot past goalkeeper Richard Joyce making the score now 2-0. Vantage Black Sticks nearly clawed one back when a scrap in front of goal couldn’t be finished and Argentina survived keeping their lead heading in to the final quarter.
The Vantage Black Sticks came out in the 4th quarter looking motivated and constructed several opportunities. Argentinas defence scrambled well including running down a Kane Russell penalty corner. The Vantage Black Sticks constructed more opportunities and went close on a couple of occasions but were unable to find the final touch to put the ball in the goal. With 6 minutes to go Argentina had another penalty corner, Richard Joyce made the initial save but couldn’t clear the rebound and Argentina put the ball in the goal to put them in the lead 3-0.
Vantage Black Sticks Coach Darren Smith reflected on the game “A tough day at the office today. Argentina was clinical in the circle and were able to take the opportunities that they created. Although we created some good opportunities ourselves we just weren't able to find the finishing touches. It sets up a really big game for us against Spain on Friday morning”.
Argentina 3 (Agustin Mazzilli 23’, Lucas Vila 41’, Lucas Martinez 55’)
The FIH Pro League is Coming
The FIH Pro League - Presented by Sentinel Homes will see home and away games btween the world's top 9 Men's and Women's hockey nations played between January and June, starting in 2019, culminating in a winner takes all Grand Final