The Vantage Black Sticks Women have come away with an impressive 3-1 win over the United States Women on a cold and blustery Auckland evening. The Black Sticks looked sharp on the attacking end and rewarded for some great patience and build up play.
After a 20-minute delay in the action due to some torrid Auckland rain play finally got underway in this must win Pro League match for both sides.
The Vantage Black Sticks started the match strongly taking the ball off the United States on the first play of the match and going close to opening the score. The United States managed scramble on defence and deflected the ball wide of the goal. The Black Sticks continued to push hard and were making life difficult for the USA to clear their half. Despite a number of attacking plays the USA Women were holding solidly in defence. Even though the weight of possession was against them the United States ended up with the first penalty corner of the match after finding a NZ foot in the circle. Grace O’Hanlon stopped the shot and the Black Sticks then looked to counter down the other end of the field. The United States then earned a second penalty corner. This time the Black Sticks post defender managed to deflect the straight shot wide. At the end of the first quarter neither side was able to take their chances and the score remained 0-0.
The second quarter started much the same way as the first had finished with both sides creating some scoring opportunities, neither side looked to be able to break through the final line of defence until Katie Doar entered the circle on the right side and sent a cross to Olivia Merry who deflected it into the goal. Late in the second quarter the Black Sticks increased their lead when Kirsten Pearce deflected home an amazing ball across the circle. At half time the score was 2-0 and the Black Sticks Women were looking incredibly strong on the offensive end and looked to close out the USA Women and seal the much needed 3 points.
The Black Sticks looked positive early in the second half and were rewarded with their first penalty corner of the match. Ella Gunson stepped up and found a deft touch past the goalkeeper to put the Black Sticks up 3-0. The United States continued to search for the goal to get themselves back in the match and earned their first penalty corner of the second half. The Black Sticks goal line defence was once more up to the task to keep the Black Sticks lead intact. With 3 minutes to go Olivia Merry found herself open in the circle and reversed a shot which pinged straight off the crossbar. At the end of 3 quarters the Black Sticks were looking in a commanding position up 3-0 in the game.
As we entered an important final quarter the Vantage Black Sticks were in a strong position, they continued to attack with flair and creativity. The United States had the first penalty corner of the 4thquarter and were finally rewarded with a great set piece which featured two deflections. Late in the 4thquarter the United States earned another penalty corner this time however the Black Sticks defence kept the ball away from the goal and the Black Sticks kept their lead at 3-1. That was the way the match finished with the Vantage Black Sticks taking the win.
Vantage Black Sticks Women3 (Olivia Merry 19’, Kirsten Pearce 25’, Ella Gunson 34’)
United States Women1 (Danielle Grega 51’)