Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
April 1, 2017
The Vantage Blacks Sticks trailed for much of their match against Australia but scored close to the final whistle to share the points in their second-round match at the Vantage Hawke’s Bay Women’s Festival of Hockey being played in Hastings, New Zealand.
Australia came out of the blocks strongly and was one up in the 11th minute with the goal being scored by Laura Barden.
Run and gun play
She said, “It is heart wrenching to lead a match for so long only to concede the equalising goal with less than two minutes on the clock. We were probably guilty of playing a little bit of run and gun in the second half rather than consolidating on our one goal lead.”
Vantage Black Sticks coach Mark Hager said, “We have some new players in the squad and they are still learning to play at international level. Our players need to show more aggression and develop more belief in their ability.”
Mark Hager believes that the standard of play so far shown at the Festival of Hockey is a little down on where it was at the Rio Olympics but he that is to be expected as all four teams have substantially changed squads since last year.
Australia dominated play in the first half to go into the break with a one goal lead, but the Vantage Black Sticks had more possession and territory in the second spell.
It took until the 58th minute for the Black Sticks to equalise when a great run through the middle of the Australian defence by Olivia Merry saw a deflection in front of goal and the ball fell to Samantha Harrison who made no mistake in putting it into the net.
After two rounds Japan tops the table with two wins, from Australia who have two draws and New Zealand and the USA with one draw each.
The top two teams after round robin play will compete for the Vantage Hawke’s Bay Cup on Sunday April 9, 2017.
Half time score Australia 1 Vantage Black Sticks 0
Final score Australia 1 (Laura Barden) Vantage Black Sticks 1 (Samantha Harrison)
Photos courtesy Ned Dawson/Vantage Hawke’s Bay Festival of Hockey