BLACK STICKS MEN TOE-TO-TOE WITH WORLDS BEST, WOMEN OUTPLAYED BY GERMANY
In a game marred by some questionable officiating, the Vantage Black Sticks Men suffered another heart-wrenching loss against the Netherlands, the world number ones, with a narrow defeat of 3-2.
The match began with the Black Sticks having to face immense pressure. The Dutch team came out strong, but despite the heated start, only one shot was taken on goal, which was expertly saved by New Zealand goalkeeper Leon Hayward.
The Black Sticks came out for the second quarter with a clear plan and earned a penalty corner 30 seconds in. Kane Russell stepped up to the challenge, continuing his remarkable form by scoring his fourth penalty corner goal in six games, giving New Zealand a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Russell doubled the advantage, again converting a penalty corner and putting New Zealand ahead 2-0.
The Dutch responded aggressively, earning a series of penalty corners. However, Hayward put on a remarkable display of goalkeeping, denying the Netherlands time and again, and maintaining the Black Sticks’ 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
The Dutch team came out aggressively after the break, determined to make a comeback. An early mishit shot bobbled under Hayward, putting the Netherlands on the scoreboard.
Despite New Zealand’s best efforts they spent most of the quarter on the back foot. Hayward was once again a saviour, blocking several dangerous opportunities and keeping the Black Sticks ahead.
The final quarter saw controversy as the Dutch earned an equaliser from a penalty corner with three minutes to spare, given for an infringement that appeared to happen outside the circle.
The Dutch then scored from the corner, though the ball did not seem to go fully outside the circle.
Just as the match looked like it was heading towards a draw, the Dutch pushed forward and found open space, scoring the winning goal with just 5 seconds to play, shattering the hearts of the Black Sticks’.
The Vantage Black Sticks women’s team suffered a 3-1 defeat to Germany in Amsterdam in another match where the Kiwis took a while to find their rhythm.
The first quarter began with an unfortunate Black Sticks turnover, allowing Germany to score goal in the first minute.
Thereafter, both teams seemed to retreat into a more cautious play, leading to a quiet quarter with few clear scoring opportunities.
The second quarter followed a similar pattern, with neither side able to gain a significant upper hand. Both teams earned their first penalty corners, but neither could convert these opportunities into goals. The score remained 1-0 in favor of the Germans going into halftime.
In the third quarter, the Vantage Black Sticks came out stronger and more cohesive. They found the equaliser thanks to some impressive individual play from Katie Doar, who made a scything run up the field and provided a precise pass to Olivia Merry. Merry then found Tyler Lench in open space down the left. Lench masterfully drew out the German goalkeeper before delivering a decisive pass to Hannah Cotter for an easy tap-in goal.
However, the Germans quickly reclaimed the lead from a penalty corner that sneakily found its way under the New Zealand goalkeeper, shifting the momentum back in their favour.
Heading into the final quarter, the Kiwi side again showed increased aggression, creating more circle penetrations, which has been a struggle throughout the tour.
However, their efforts were thwarted when Germany extended their lead with a thread-the-needle shot at the top of the circle. Amidst a mass of bodies, the German attacker managed to fire an unsighted shot past the New Zealand goalkeeper, bringing the scoreline to 3-1.
The Black Sticks women now have a day off before facing the Dutch again, while the men face Germany tomorrow.
- June 26th, 2023 in