After a lacklustre first half from the Kiwis, all the action came in the last four minutes when Charlotte Harrison and Kayla Sharland netted two goals and the Black Sticks desperately tried to equalise. Despite a frantic last effort attempt, they couldn’t pull off the win they wanted and Germany now move to the top of Pool B’s points table.
“We are disappointed with the way we started. We were on the back foot in the first 20 minutes and if you give a side like Germany that much space it is very hard to come back,” says head coach Mark Hager.
“Germany is a team with good basic skills and unless you put them under real pressure, they won’t make mistakes. There were times when we did have opportunities and we didn’t convert, and that’s something we will learn from,” says Hager.
The Germans made a terrific start to the match, quickly opening up a 2-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes thanks to strikes from team captain Julia Müller and Eileen Hoffman. Müller’s goal came from a superbly executed eighth minute penalty corner conversion, while Hoffmann punished the Black Sticks’ failure to clear their lines with a clinical finish seven minutes later. Germany had ten shots on goal compared to New Zealand’s three during the first half, and at times the Kiwis were found scrambling to clear the ball.
Canterbury’s Sian Fremaux came close to equalising through a reverse stick shot in front of the goal in the 10th minute and Gemma Flynn, who had an outstanding game, set up a good goal for Krystal Forgesson later on in the half, but it was not to be for the Kiwis.
Throughout the second half the score remained locked at 2-0. It was by far the better half for the Black Sticks, they put more pressure on the Germans and created better opportunities – Auckland striker Katie Glynn perhaps had the most chances to slot one home. The game changed dramatically in the last four minutes when Germany were carded and dropped to ten players and Hager made the call to replace goalkeeper Bianca Russell with an outfield player.
The tactic paid off almost immediately when Cassandra Reid crossed to Charlotte Harrison who slammed one home in the 66th minute, however, Germany re-established their two goal advantage when Franzisca Hauke picked up an overhead pass before sending the ball into an open goal.
“With one player off we thought it was a good time to double the advantage and take the goalie off [Bianca Russell]. It worked well, but then we had a lack of concentration and they got one back,” says Hager.
In the final minute, Sharland, who was again instrumental in today’s game, found herself unmarked at the top of the circle and made it count but it was not enough to deny Germany the victory.
Germany are now at the top of Pool B on six points, followed by the Black Sticks on three. Belgium and India drew 1-1 so have picked up one point each.
The Black Sticks Women play their next game against Belgium at midnight on Sunday (NZ time). It is LIVE and then replayed again at 6am on Sky Sport 2. The Black Sticks Men’s game against the Irish is live on Sky Sport 3 at 7.30pm tonight.
The top three teams from the World League Semi-Final automatically qualify for the 2014 Hockey World Cup, although it is possible to earn qualification at the tournament with a lower ranking. New Zealand will also have a chance to qualify at the Oceania Cup in Taranaki this October.
Germany 3 (Julia Müller, Eileen Hoffmann, Franzisca Hauke ) New Zealand 2 (Charlotte Harrison, Kayla Sharland) HT: 2-0
Hockey New Zealand