The Black Sticks Women have held on to take a 1-0 win against the USA, after an early goal from Michaela Curtis got the Kiwis ahead in their second game of the Four Nations tournament in Hamilton tonight.
Head coach Mark Hager admitted his side was lucky to come away with a win and says they will have to turn it up a notch when they take on Korea on Saturday if they want to confirm their spot in the final.
“We got lots of opportunities tonight but weren’t clinical and that is disappointing, we just aren’t playing as well as we were last week. Korea will come out and fight for it on Saturday so we need to perform much better if we are to make the final,” says Hager.
“I feel like the players tonight were trying too hard to impress and not doing the basics well. They are hoping it will happen rather than really making it sure it does, the USA are very strong in defence and they did well to shut us down in the circle,” says Hager.
The Kiwis had the majority of possession and ample opportunity to score in the first half but struggled to convert. Playing only her seventh test Curtis, aged 19, scored her third international goal tonight when she received the ball from Glynn and standing in front of the net, the Palmerston North striker slotted it home.
Taking a 1-0 lead into the second half, USA were the more dominant side in the second spell and it was thanks to some fortunate saves in defence that the score remained unchanged and New Zealand bagged the win.
The Black Sticks, along with Argentina, are now on four points ahead of Korea on three with the USA still to claim a win during this second leg of this Four Nations tournament. The Kiwis could get away with a draw on Saturday and still make the finals, but Hager has made it very clear that a win is what they are after.
All teams are using this tournament as preparation prior to the World League Semi-Finals which is the new World Cup qualification tournament. The USA and Argentina will compete in the semi-final in London while Korea and New Zealand will compete in the semi-final in Rotterdam in June.
The first half of the earlier Argentina vs Korea game was perhaps not as clinical as either side had hoped. Olympic silver medallists Argentina did a good job of holding possession and were 2-0 up at the break thanks to goals from Carla Rebecchi – her fourth of the tournament, and Noel Barrionuevo.
After the break, Barrionuevo got her second of the night before Young Ran Kim got her team on the scoreboard after converting a penalty corner and then scored again later in the half.
All teams have a rest day tomorrow and travel to Tauranga. On Saturday, the Black Sticks will face Korea at 3pm and Argentina will take on USA at 1pm before play-offs on Sunday. All games during the weekend will be streamed LIVE here on the Hockey New Zealand website.
New Zealand 1(Michaela Curtis) beat USA 0. HT: 1-0 to NZ.
Argentina 4 (Carla Rebecchi x2, Noel Barrionuevo x2) beat Korea 2 (Young Ran Kim x2). HT: 2-0 to Argentina
Hockey New Zealand