The Hockeyroos will compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after winning the third and final Oceania Cup match 3-2 over New Zealand in Whangarei.
The result saw the Hockeyroos win the series 2-0, going undefeated over the three matches.
Only a loss by three goals or more in the final match could prevent the Hockeyroos from sewing up the series but they were never going to rest on their laurels and play it safe.
This Hockeyroos team is quickly becoming renowned for playing fast, attacking hockey and they showed their intent from the outset when Courtney Schonell flashed a shot wide in the opening minutes.
Needing quick and early goals, New Zealand went in with a plan of taking off goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon at opportune times throughout the match in the hope of making the most of having an extra outfield player.
The home side did get off to flying, if somewhat fortunate start when a speculative Tarryn Davey ball from the edge of the attacking circle found the stick of Hockeyroos defender Hattie Shand and ended up in the back of the net in the 4th minute.
Grace Stewart won the Hockeyroos a penalty corner without O’Hanlon on the pitch but the Black Sticks defensive repelled the resultant drag flick.
A two minute period in the second quarter then effectively diffused any chance of the Hockeyroos not qualifying for Paris as they struck twice to go in front.
The first came from Brooke Peris when she followed up after injecting a Hockeyroos penalty corner. Kaitlin Nobbs trapped it, rolled the ball to a waiting Claire Colwill whose drag flick was saved but Peris was on the spot to tap home the rebound.
Steph Kershaw, playing in her 100th international, was then the instigator of the Hockeyroos’ second when she got the better of three Black Sticks defenders through sheer determination and persistence before finding Stewart in the circle. The striker produced a clinical finish into an empty net from the angle with O’Hanlon off the pitch.
Just after half time the situation improved further for the Hockeyroos when Schonell rifled an unstoppable tomahawk past O’Hanlon from an acute angle after an assist from Shand to make it 3-1.
Despite staring down the barrel, the Black Sticks would not go down without a fight and they made it 3-2 when Megan Hull sent the ball into a sea of bodies with Hope Ralph getting the decisive touch to knock it home.
However, it would prove futile as the Hockeyroos continued to create chances and withstand the attempted attacks from New Zealand to hold onto their lead up to full time.
“We’re over the moon. I’m so proud of the girls…we played so deadly today,” said Peris.
“We came into the series with a goal and we achieved it today so I’m really happy.”
“We knew the Black Sticks were going to come out hard and we just stuck to our processes and got the job done.”
The Hockeyroos squad will now return home and have a break prior to Season 3 of the Hockey One League getting underway on 6 October.
New Zealand 2 (Davey 4’, Ralph 37’)
Hockeyroos 3 (Peris 21’, Stewart 23’, Schonell 32’)
Hockeyroos: 1.Claire Colwill, 2.Rosie Malone, 3.Brooke Peris (c), 4.Amy Lawton, 6.Penny Squibb, 13.Hattie Shand, 14.Stephanie Kershaw, 15.Kailtin Nobbs, 16.Courtney Schonell, 18.Jane Claxton, 19.Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 20.Karri Somerville, 22.Tatum Stewart, 24.Mariah Williams, 29.Rebecca Greiner, 30.Grace Stewart
Unused substitutes: 21.Renee Taylor, 41.Zoe Newman (gk)