BLACK STICKS PUT UP FIGHT AGAINST BELGIANS
In Antwerp, the Vantage Black Sticks women and men faced off against Belgium where the women were unfortunate to lose 2-1 despite putting on an inspiring performance, particularly in the latter part of the match, and the men going down 1-0 in similar fashion
In the women’s gae the first quarter saw a more composed New Zealand side compared to previous outings. They may not have dominated possession or territory, but there was a noticeable reduction in turnovers and an increase in attacking plays.
Nevertheless, they were dealt a blow just 40 seconds in when Belgium secured the first goal of the game from a penalty corner.
The second quarter saw Belgium tighten their hold on the game, managing to net an early goal through an unmarked player in the circle. New Zealand kept their spirits high and created several opportunities of their own, but the elusive final connections weren’t quite there. They headed into halftime with a two-goal deficit to make up.
Returning after the break, Belgium came out strong, but New Zealand finally started to find their footing. The third quarter marked a shift in momentum, as the Black Sticks began to grow into the game, meeting the Belgian pressure head-on.
In the final quarter, it was clear that New Zealand had hit their stride. They dominated the play, generating more opportunities and goal scoring chances than in all the previous quarters combined.
The much-deserved breakthrough came late on when Tayla White scored her first international goal. This came after a shot by Olivia Merry was saved, only for the ball to rebound directly into White’s path. She coolly converted the chance, putting the Black Sticks on the scoreboard and providing a glimmer of hope for the Kiwis.
The men’s game was characterised by resilient defending and moments of real attacking threat from the Kiwi side, despite the Belgians having the upper hand for the most part.
The first quarter was a closely fought affair, with both sides creating chances. Belgium, however, grew progressively stronger as the quarter advanced, eventually breaking the deadlock with an unstoppable penalty corner flick that found the top corner of the net.
Over the course of the rest of the game, Belgium proved to be the stronger side, but New Zealand stood their ground admirably. They were not mere pushovers in this game, exhibiting solid defence against the persistent Belgian attacks.
The Black Sticks also created a number of promising attacking chances, but their finishing wasn’t quite up to the mark. This, unfortunately, meant that the one-goal deficit remained unchanged despite their efforts.
Throughout the game, New Zealand’s fighting spirit was clear. Even in the dying minutes of the game, they pressed Belgium hard in search of an equaliser.
Despite the losses, the score lines and vastly improved performances, will give the teams confidence as they now travel to Amsterdam to face off against top-tier opponents in the Netherlands and Germany.
- June 23rd, 2023 in