The Vantage Black Sticks have finished off their 3 games at Ngå Puna Wai stadium in style beating the China Women 2-0 in a tight match that was looking like going down to the wire until an Olivia Merry stroke sealed the result with 3 minutes to go. The win takes the Vantage Black Sticks Women onto 6 points in the FIH Pro League.
After some back and forth play at the start of the game China earned the first penalty corner when they found a Black Sticks foot in the circle. The following drag flick went wide of the goal to keep the score at 0-0. The Black Sticks then had a couple of chances on some cross balls into the circle, the China goalkeeper however was up to the task and put enough pressure on to keep the touch out of the goal. As the quarter wore on the Black Sticks started holding possession for longer and were looking to open up the Chinese defence through the wide channels. Late in the first quarter China had their second penalty corner when they found a Black Sticks foot in the circle again. This time the sweep for goal was run down by Kirsten Pearce and we finished the first quarter tied at 0-0.
China started the second quarter strongly looking to put the Vantage Black Sticks under a lot of pressure, however they suffered a setback when they were reduced to 10 players for 5 minutes. Despite this they continued to push hard and look to continue building the pressure on the black sticks. With 10 minutes to go the China side was reduced to 9 players which the Black Sticks looked to take advantage of as they constructed some great scoring opportunities. The Black Sticks earned the first penalty corner of the second quarter when China stick obstructed. The straight shot was run down, and the China team was able to clear their circle, following that China was back up to 11 players and had weathered the initial storm. China had a late break down the field which was shut down and cleared away by the Black Sticks team. The Black Sticks earned their second penalty corner off a fantastic break from Kelsey Smith was stopped by an illegal challenge. The first shot was powerful but went to the right side of the goal. At the half break we were still locked at 0-0.
The Vantage Black Sticks started the second half in the best way possible after Olivia Merry was left unmarked in the circle and put the ball past the Chinese goalkeeper which put the Black Sticks in the lead 1-0. A few minutes later they went close again after Stacey Michelsen found an open Kelsey Smith her shot went flying past the far post to keep China in the battle. Olivia Shannon then had another break away against but was forced to take the shot from a wide angle and this time the ball went past the other post. The Black Sticks then turned China over on the edge of the circle and had a great scoring opportunity. The China goalkeeper was up to the shot and kept the score at 1-0 as we entered the 4thquarter.
China looked to play positive hockey at the beginning of the fourth quarter and were rewards with 10 minutes to go with a penalty corner. After both teams had several opportunities China earned the next penalty corner. The shot was saved and the Vantage Black Sticks kept their lead intact. Sam Charlton then fed a fantastic ball to Stacey Michelsen who threw a ball down the line to Olivia Shannon as she drove along the baseline and earned the team a penalty corner. Off the subsequent corner they earned a stroke after the China player stopped the ball on the line with her body. Olivia Merry then stepped up for the stroke and put the ball in the back of the net. China kept their goal keeper off the field hoping to find a goal to get themselves back into the match. Unfortunately for China this wasn’t the case and the Black Sticks Women came away with a 2-0 win.
Vantage Black Sticks Women 1 (Olivia Merry 32’, 57’)