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2019 HOCKEY PRO LEAGUE Vantage Black Sticks Women Go Down Fighting

  27 January, 2019                                                                                            Photo: Hockey NZ / Simon Watts 
Vantage Black Sticks Women Go Down Fighting 
       The Vantage Black Sticks Women have gone down 1-0 in a tight contest that was ultimately sealed with a great goal to Maartje Krekelaar in the 38th minute of the game. Both sides had opportunities with the Netherlands having 6 clear shots to the Black Sticks 5 showing just how close this match was.   The second match of the day in Auckland saw the Vantage Black Sticks Women take on the Netherlands Women. The Netherlands have been the form side in international womens hockey for a number of years so it was always going to be a big task that would be ahead of the Vantage Black Sticks Women.    The first quarter was played evenly with both times constructing some excellent opportunities. Both times the goalkeepers were up to the task. The Netherlands had the first penalty corner of the match but struggled to get a clear shot off and the initial challenge was shut down. The rest of the second half was played out in a similar way with both sides showing some great attacking flair but often the needed final touch was something that was letting both teams down. At the half time break the sides were tied at 0-0 and the Vantage Black Sticks were sensing a chance to get their first win against the heavily favoured Dutch side.    The third quarter continued this arm wrestle with both sides passing the ball around the back and were looking for opportunities to break the opposition down. The Netherlands struck first deep into the third quarter when lightning striker Maartje Krekelaar shot home a well worked goal to put the Netherlands up 1-0. This seemed to trigger the Vantage Black Sticks Women to life and they pushed hard as the quarter wound down trying to find the equaliser. Despite creating a few opportunities the Black Sticks were unable to break through and we went to the final quarter with the Netherlands holding a 1-0 lead.    Early in the final quarter the Vantage Black Sticks Women earned themselves a penalty corner when a long ball into the circle was deflected onto the foot of the Netherlands defender. Brooke Neal stepped in and swept the ball which was initially saved but then found a Black Stick on the rebound and was swept into the goal. Unfortunately the goal was ruled out as New Zealand was deemed to have obstructed the play. The Vantage Black Sticks continued to try get the equaliser but ultimately were unable to break through the Netherlands defence and the result stayed 1-0         Netherlands 1 (Maartje Krekelaar 38’)   Vantage Black Sticks 0     Release Ends   What is the FIH Pro League? The FIH Pro League – Presented by Sentinel Homes will see home and away games between the world’s top 9 Men’s and Women’s hockey nations played between January and June, starting in 2019, culminating in a winner takes all Grand Final. More details at http://blacksticks.co.nz/2019FIHProLeague                                   

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