The Hockeyroos reached the semi-finals of the 2014 Hockey World Cup for the first time since 2006 with a tight 0-0 draw against rivals New Zealand and the hosts Netherlands defeating Korea by 3-0 in Pool A.
The result, which came at the end of a tense trans-Tasman battle in humid conditions in The Hague, keeps the Australian women second in Pool A on ten points, three ahead of the New Zealand and Koreans and five behind the hosts Netherlands.
Australia might have won the match but for a disallowed goal early in the second half, which was awarded at first but overturned on appeal to the video umpire by the Black Sticks. Emily Hurtz thought she had given her side the lead with a deft deflection over the goalkeeper in the 38th minute only for the goal to be ruled out after replays showed Anna Flanagan had not attempted to stop the ball after being awarded a free hit in the build-up.
After the match, Hockeyroos Head Coach Adam Commens said he was pleased with the result.
He said, “It was a really hard fought match as it always is against New Zealand. I thought that they were particularly good in the first half and we were not at our best. It was warm today and we had a really high intensity match against the Netherlands [on Saturday night] and a short turnaround for this match and I think that we struggled a little physically to reach the level that we had the other night.
“On top of that we had a number of players that were not 100% physically fit in terms of illness and injury, which inhibited us to play with the energy that we had shown before. I thought it was a really gritty performance; in the second half we created chances to win the match as New Zealand did in the first half. Ultimately, we’re pleased with the draw and we just have to wait to see what happens between Korea and the Netherlands.”
Black Sticks Head coach Mark Hager was disappointed after the draw especially given the opportunities created to score a crucial winning goal. “It’s disappointing from our point of view not to win the game and we had a few chances we didn’t put away. We defended well and threw everything at them at the end but just couldn’t score It didn’t fall for us today and it was a hot, tough game. It’s disappointing but it happens and we now need to regroup and get onto the next game,” he said.
Before the match, Hockeyroo Kate Jenner received acknowledgement of her 100th appearance for Australia.
She said, “It’s a big stage at the World Cup to play your 100th game. I would have been happier with the win but it’s always a tough game against New Zealand and we knew that they were going to bring it. We had to lift our game and hold them out in the end.”
The game began at pace with Australian goalkeeper Rachael Lynch forced into a good one-on-one save from Olivia Merry in the eighth minute, followed soon after by a New Zealand penalty corner that was well defended but in the awarding of it, the Hockeyroos lost their video referral.
The Hockeyroos’ first opportunity saw Kellie White’s tomahawk fly over the bar before, moments later, Australia’s first penalty corner move broke down. A second chance from a corner followed soon after but passed without a goal. New Zealand might have gone in to the break a goal up but for Krystal Forgesson’s shot at the near post going wide.
Hurtz’s disallowed goal was the closest the second half came to producing a winner with both defences coming out on top and neither goalkeeper particularly busy after the break.
When asked afterwards about his desire to go for the win, Commens added, “We were generating enough chances to get the win. I didn’t see any need for us to play any more attacking or really go for the jugular for the win.
“It does show that international matches are all difficult and we’ve seen that throughout this World Cup. It’s great that they are like that but anyone talking about easy matches…there just are no easy matches. We saw that in our first three matches and again today. It’s just really tight. I think women’s hockey’s in a good place and the level is just getting better from all the teams and there’s going to be some interesting times in the coming years.”
Ashleigh Nelson will have an x-ray after being hit in the toe early in the match.
The Netherlands and Hockeyroos have progressed to the semi-finals as Pool A winners and runners-up. The Australians will face the Pool B winners – most likely USA or Argentina but possibly China – on Thursday.