A late goal from Olivia Merry has lifted the Vantage Black Sticks to a 1-0 victory over England to progress to the gold medal match at the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final in Auckland.
New Zealand dominated much of the match against the world number two ranked England side to secure their second successive shot at the World League trophy, having finished runners up in 2015.
After a goalless first half, the Black Sticks lit up the scoreboard in the 55th minute when Merry sent a penalty corner drag flick soaring over the head of goalkeeper Maddie Hinch.
With time counting down a roaring crowd at the Harbour Hockey Stadium watched on with intent as the Kiwis held strong on defence to seal the result.
The Vantage Black Sticks will now await the winner of tomorrow night’s Netherlands vs Korea semi final ahead of the gold medal game at 8:15pm on Sunday.
Head coach Mark Hager said he was relieved to take the game and that it was an immense performance from his side.
“To come out and back up our effort in the quarter finals is very pleasing. I’m probably relieved more than anything but we have to refocus now and move on to the final,” he said.
“The girls really stuck at it tonight and now we have a chance to come away with a gold medal in front of a home crowd which is fantastic.
“We can’t thank the crowd enough and how great they were. When things were tough they gave us an extra pair of legs I thought. They were cheering and chanting for specific players and it was a bit like having another coach out there.”
Event tickets can be purchased along with a full rundown of transport information through www.ticketek.co.nz
VANTAGE BLACK STICKS: 1 (Olivia Merry)