The Vantage Black Sticks Women have won the Oceania Cup against the Hockeyroos and booked their place at the Tokyo Olympic Games with a 1-1 draw. Heading into the match the New Zealand side only needed to draw the match to qualify for the Olympic Games and despite significant pressure late in the match the New Zealand side held their nerve to see off the Australians.
Vantage Black Sticks coach reflected on the match “We have been reflecting on our performances recently and have come together as a side and performed as a team when it counted the most. We are so glad to get the win and qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, it’s an amazing feeling”.
Black Sticks Coach Graham Shaw commented “The game was ugly at times, however the team dug in and was able to stick together to get a fantastic result”.
Game three of the Oceania Cup between the Vantage Black Sticks Women and the Hockeyroos got underway with both sides needing a positive result to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The Hockeyroos started the match positively earning several penalty corners, on the second corner Mariah Williams slid in and deflected the ball past Grace O’Hanlon to put the Australians in the box seat early in the match. Australia continued to apply pressure on the Kiwis and forced O’Hanlon to pull off some outstanding reactive saves. Late in the first quarter Olivia Merry managed to get into the Australian backline and intercepted a ball for a great scoring opportunity for the New Zealand side. The Hockeyroos managed to apply enough pressure to stifle the opportunity. At the end of the first quarter the Australians had their nose slightly in front in what was a tight first period.
The Australian side looked to build more pressure early in the second quarter and were rewarded in the third minute when they found a Brooke Neal foot in the circle. Ella Gunson ran a great line off the subsequent penalty corner to stop the Australians getting a clear shot off. Midway through the second quarter Brooke Neal managed to find an open Stacey Michelsen in the New Zealand midfield who pulled off an outstanding shot. Rachel Lynch was composed and pulled off a great save.
The Vantage Black Sticks Women came out in the second half looking aggressive as they were desperately searching for the equalizer goal and put themselves back into the box seat in the series. The Hockeyroos absorbed the early pressure and started to slow the match down as they looked to close out the contest. After a scoreless third quarter the New Zealand side would be looking for a big final quarter in the hopes of finding an equalizer and qualifying for the Olympic Games.
The Hockeyroos suffered a set back early in the final quarter when they were reduced to ten players for not leaving the ball alone. The New Zealand side then earned a penalty corner and Sam Charlton managed to get a good pass into the circle, unfortunately the pass beat Rachel McCann’s stick and New Zealand were still searching for the equalizer. The Australians had a great opportunity midway through the final quarter then there drag flick clanked off the post to deny the Hockeyroos a two goal buffer. With five minutes to go the Vantage Black Sticks Women got on the score sheet through an Olivia Merry straight hit. The Australians immediately pulled their goalkeeper and applied significant pressure on the New Zealand defence. The Kiwis were struggling to clear their circle as the Hockeyroos were rewarded with several penalty corners in a row. The New Zealand defence was up to the task as they soaked up the pressure to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Vantage Black Sticks Women 1 (Olivia Merry 55 min)
Hockeyroos 1 (Mariah Williams 2 min)