The Black Sticks Women have finished on a high at the Hockey World League Final in Tucumán, Argentina after beating China 1-0 to take fifth place at the tournament, and Germany defeated Korea in a high scoring match by 7-4 to finish 7th at 1st edition of the tournament.
Inspirational captain Kayla Sharland celebrated her 200th international cap in style, delivering the game winning goal late in the second half.
While the game only provided one goal, the statistics told the story of New Zealand’s dominance with 22 circle penetrations to four and 75% of possession in China’s half.
The match put both sides under testing conditions with temperatures again approaching 40 degrees Celsius, but the final result was retribution for the Black Sticks who lost 2-0 to China in the campaign opener.
Sharland’s 200th test will be one to remember in what was her side’s final game for the year.
“I’m very pleased we came away with a positive result today. It’s a nice way to finish the tour and year for a young and improving team,” she said.
“I feel very privileged to have played 200 games for New Zealand and to come away with a win made it even better.”
Black Sticks Head coach Mark Hager echoed his captain and said it was good to be able to leave the tournament on a high.
“It’s great to finish with two wins and we leave with a positive feeling after a tough start to the tournament.
“We created a lot of chances and while we only converted one, we didn’t give China many opportunities and once again defended well.
The Black Sticks looked good but couldn’t convert their chances in the first half against the scrambling Chinese defence, with the game locked up 0-0 at halftime.
Sharland broke the deadlock with just 15 minutes left on the clock with a precision reverse stick shot from the top of the circle which crashed into the bottom right of the goal.
The Black Sticks held on to their lead as time expired to win their fifth place playoff and finish the tournament with back-to-back wins.