In an absolute nail biter in which the two trans-Tasman rivals traded goals throughout, the Junior Black Sticks Women have drawn 3-3 with the Australian Jillaroos in their final pool game of the ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup (Women) in Germany.
The result continues Australia’s unbeaten run at the tournament and ensures progression from Pool C as group winners, meaning they will face the second placed finisher from Pool D – either Germany, Spain or England, and also India progresses to quarter finals as Pool C runners-up and will face winners of Pool D.
It was a strong-willed team effort from the New Zealanders which was finished off when Canterbury’s Cass Reid scored her second goal of the night in the final minute of the game. However, it was a win that the Kiwis were needing tonight.
“The team played much better together today, however it is a real lost opportunity. The inability to convert from the penalty corners that we were awarded has really cost us and now we just have to prepare to do the best we can in the playoffs,” said head coach of New Zealand Chris Leslie.
The Jillaroos only had to draw to be assured of a quarter final spot and in the end, even a narrow defeat would have seen them through on goal difference following previous victories over Russia and India. India’s win over Russia had placed the pressure firmly on the New Zealanders as the match unfolded.
Sunday’s hat-trick heroine Madison Fitzpatrick got the Jillaroos off to the perfect start as she proved her prowess once again from the penalty corner to give Australia the lead midway through the first half but Rhiannon Dennison levelled for New Zealand soon after.
Two minutes into the second half Australia found themselves behind for the first time in the tournament when Cass Reid gave New Zealand the lead. It was another of the stars of the Jillaroos’ campaign so far, Murphy Allendorf, who equalised with just over 20 minutes remaining.
And with the clock ticking down it became 3-2 to Australia as World Young Player of the Year Anna Flanagan netted her second goal of the tournament but there was still time for one final twist as Reid equalised for 3-3 late on.
Australia progress from the top of Pool C alongside India, whose victory over New Zealand on Sunday proved crucial.