Argentina has stunned the Vantage Black Sticks in the first quarter of the match with a 3-goal opening period that put them in the ascendency in the battle between the fourth ranked Argentina and 8thranked Kiwis. Needing to get a win today to secure their first win of the FIH Pro League the New Zealand team looked shocked as Argentina capatalised on their early defensive lapses. The Black Sticks worked hard to get themselves back into the match but ultimately came up short in a 4-3 loss to the Argentinian Men.
Sam Lane commented after the match “It was a good comeback from the team, unfortunately we put ourselves in to bigger hole at the start of the match. We came back in the second quarter and played to our strengths, but we weren’t able to get enough to get back into the contest”.
Argentina couldn’t have started the match any better when the Black Sticks were unable to clear the ball out of the circle and Argentina striker Matias Paredes jumped on the loose ball and flicked it past the New Zealand goalkeeper Richard Joyce.
Argentina increased their lead midway through the first quarter when a penalty corner drag flick struck Shea McAleese’s body which resulted in a penalty stroke. Maico Casella calmly stepped up to the spot and flicked the ball into the side netting.
The nightmare first quarter got even worse for the Kiwi side when loose marking in the New Zealand defensive circle left Martin Ferreiro open and he slotted his shot into the goal.
The Black Sticks managed to get one back at the end of the first quarter when Sam Lane’s shot on goal took a deflection off an Argentina players shinguard sending the shot around the Los Leones goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi.
Sam Lane got his second goal of the game when his low hard drag flick found its way under Vivaldi’s stick and put the Black Sticks Men rite back into the match.
Argentina continued the scoring frenzy with their fourth goal of the match when Joyce was unable to get back in the goal in time to save Frederico Fernandez shot. This set up what was looking like another mountain that the Black Sticks were going to have to climb in the second half if they were any chance of securing their first victory.
The third quarter was a much calmer as neither side was able to to trouble the scorers. As the quarter wound down Argentina started to take control, however the Black Sticks defence was up to what Argentina threw at them in that quarter.
Desperate to get themselves back into the contest the New Zealand Men managed to get George Muir into space in the circle. His forehand shot motored into the net past Vivaldi setting up a tense final 10 minutes for the Los Leones Men.
With four minutes to go and needing to get the equalising goal the Kiwi side pulled George Enersen to give them an extra field player and a hopeful overlap on the field. Unfortunately for the New Zealand team it was a little too late as they fell to Argentina 4-3.
New Zealand return home now to prepare for their Anzac Day match on April 25 at North Harbour, when they will take on Australia in their final home match of the FIH Pro League.
Vantage Black Sticks 3 (Sam Lane 15, 22 min, George Muir 47 min)
Argentina 4 (Matias Paredes 2 min, Maico Casella 9 min, Martin Ferreiro 15 min, Frederico Fernandez 27 min)