The Vantage Black Sticks have muscled into the Pioneer Energy Women’s Tri Nations final after a stunning come from behind win over Japan which went down to a deciding shoot-out.
Japan had the Kiwis on the ropes and heading toward elimination after opening a 3-1 buffer in the 40th minute, before the hosts turned the tide in the dying minutes.
Samantha Harrison turned the momentum for New Zealand in the 57th minute with a diving deflection to bring her side within one goal of equalising.
The Black Sticks earned three successive penalty corners with just 10 seconds left on the clock before being awarded a stroke right on fulltime, which Olivia Merry converted to force a shoot-out with the score level 3-3.
Goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon once again proved her status as one of the world’s best one-on-one shot stoppers saving all four of Japan’s attempts, while Merry and Ella Gunson netted to seal a 2-0 shoot-out result.
New Zealand now progress to the final against Australia at 2:30pm tomorrow, with live coverage available on the Vantage Black Sticks Facebook page and www.tab.co.nz.
Head coach for the series Sean Dancer said it was good to make it through to the final after a frenetic finish.
“It’s great the result went our way, I think we had a bit of luck tonight but thankfully that went in our favour and then we stepped up right at the end there,” he said.
“We didn’t play as consistently as we’d like but I’m proud of how we stuck to our guns. It wasn’t pretty but to get the win is a real credit to them.
“Grace is proving she’s world class at shoot-outs, so you could feel the excitement when we made it through to that situation which is great.”
The Pioneer Energy Women’s Tri Nations is proudly supported by presenting partner Pioneer Energy and the Central Otago District Council.
Odds for games at the Tri Nations are available at www.tab.co.nz along with a special promotion. Simply download the TAB app, set up a new account, deposit $20 using the promo code 'HOCKEY' and TAB will boost your account with a further $20 as well as give $20 to Hockey New Zealand.
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VANTAGE BLACK STICKS 3: (Shiloh Gloyn 27’, Samantha Harrison 57’, Olivia Merry 60’)
JAPAN 3: (Mai Toriyama 17’, 40’, Yuri Nagai 35’)
New Zealand won shoot-out 2-0