The Black Sticks women have put together an incredible performance on both ends of the field as they have secured an important 3-1 win over Australia in Sydney. The match was a tough contest which saw the kiwi women clinical from their set pieces as they scored 2 penalty corner goals.
The Australian and New Zealand women lined up for what promised to be a tight affair between two evenly matched sides. Australia were backing up from a tough 1-0 loss the previous evening to the Argentina women.
The Black Sticks Women started the match in the ascendency and went close early in the match with some great play along the baseline. The Australian defence was saved when the ball clanged off the post keeping the score tied at nil all. Australia managed to absorb the early pressure as the kiwi women continued to play some constructive attacking hockey. Australia went close themselves on a couple of chances late in the first quarter as the ball went sailing past the back post and the diving attacker wasn’t able to get the touch to put the ball in the back of the goal. Australia nearly scored the first goal of the match when they put the ball in the goal. The New Zealand side referred the decision which was overturned as the Australian attacker has interfered with Grace O’Hanlon being able to make an attempt at stopping the goal. At the end of the first quarter neither side was able to break the deadlock and we were tied at nil all.
The New Zealand women went incredibly close at the start of the second quarter, however the Australian side managed to scramble for a goal line save. Not allowing the Australian side to clear their line the kiwi women found an Australian foot to earn their first penalty corner of the match. Olivia Merry continued her rich vein of goal scoring form as her sweep shot went into the back of the net touching an Australian defenders stick on the way past. Grace O’Hanlon stepped up with some massive saves late in the second quarter when the Australian side was on a quick breakaway. O’Hanlon showed some amazing agility to keep the ball away from the goal. Australia earner their first penalty corner of the match when a ball in just clipped a kiwi defenders’ foot in the circle. The New Zealand post runner deflected the Australian shot wide of the goal. The Black Sticks earned another penalty corner when Stacey Michelsen found an Australian foot in the circle. The kiwi women looked to use a creative variation however the Australian defence proved up to the challenge. At the half time break the Black Sticks women were leading 1-0.
The New Zealand team started the second half in the best way possible when the Australian team struggled to clear the ball out of the circle and turned the ball over to Olivia Merry who pushed the shot past the Australian goalkeeper and into the side of the goal. The Australian team looked to get themselves back into the match and pushed hard putting the kiwi defence under pressure. They were rewarded midway through the quarter when they found a New Zealand foot for a penalty corner. Stacey Michelsen ran down the Australian drag flick to keep the New Zealand lead at two. As the quarter wound down both sides looked to be enterprising but were struggling to get a clear shot off leaving us at the end of three quarters with a score of 2-0.
The New Zealand side started the last quarter with a disadvantage for the first 5 minutes with Holly Pearson being sent off after her challenge was deemed a yellow card worthy foul. Australia looked to utilise their extra player advantage by holding possession and looking for gaps in the Black Sticks defence. Australia touched a crash ball into the circle past t Sally Rutherford who had no chance to save the lightning deflection. Midway through the final quarter Stacey Michelsen managed to find an Australian foot earning the Black Sticks women their fourth penalty corner of the evening. Olivia Merry’s shot deflected up off an Australian stick and Amy Robinson pushed in the loose ball to return the kiwi lead to two goals. As time wound down the Australian side looked to be creative in their attack trying to get the needed two goals to get themselves back on level pegging. In the end the Black Sticks women dug deep and held on to secure the important win.
Vantage Black SticksWomen 3 (Olivia Merry 17, 32 min, Amy Robinson 52 min) Australia 1 (Savannah Fitzpatrick 48 min). HT: 1-0.