It was a committed effort from the Kiwis as they dug deep to finish the tournament with a win. Kane Russell was once again a game changer for New Zealand scoring a hat-trick and working tirelessly in defence.
“We created the most goal scoring chances of any game throughout the tournament. It was just a little disappointing that we couldn’t score more goals – poor finishing meant we didn’t put away as many as we should have at the beginning of the game,” said Junior Black Sticks head coach Grant Edwards.
“Overall, a pretty gusty performance from the team – our defence was strong and we limited Korea’s chances – it’s pleasing to have finished seventh,” said Edwards.
Southern’s Jeremy Morris was the first to score in the 11th minute from a reverse stick shot but the lead was shortly lived when Korean’s You Minyoung scored a field goal two minutes later. In the 17th minute, Russell scored his fifth goal of the tournament, this time it was a field goal rather than his trademark penalty corner conversion.
Korea scored an own goal when a shot was fired into the circle and a video referral showed that it tipped goalkeeper Richard Joyce’s foot and ricocheted into the net. New Zealand reclaimed the lead three minutes before halftime when Russell scored his second of the game, a perfectly executed drag flick to the bottom left.
In the second half, it was end to end hockey with New Zealand having more possession and a higher number of circle penetrations. The Kiwis had a number of opportunities to stretch their lead – one of the best was when Russell superbly dribbled it passed three defenders in the circle and Morris was perfectly in position on the far post but he couldn’t connect.
Korea turned up the pressure as the clock ticked down. But the Kiwis kept fighting and in the last ten seconds, they were awarded a penalty corner and Russell got his hat-trick and was subsequently named Player of the Match for the second time in the tournament.
On receiving the award, Russell said it was pleasing that his team got a win after losing the last two games by only just one goal.
“You could tell both teams were tired today, there were lots of mistakes made by both sides but luckily we hung in there, it wasn’t easy,” said Russell.
Stand out players were Russell and midfielder Jared Panchia.