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FIH PRO LEAGUE-Belgium take out the first match against the Black Sticks Women

  Belgium have continued their fine form early in 2020 with a gutsy 2-1 win over the Vantage Black Sticks Women. Despite a significant weight of possession in favour of the Black Sticks as well as several scoring opportunities, it was the Belgium team that came out on the right side of the ledger.   Belgium came into the contest against the Vantage Black Sticks full of confidence after some impressive results the previous weekend against Australia.   Belgium started the match in the best possible fashion as they would charge down into the New Zealand circle and rip a reverse stick shot past the New Zealand goalkeeper to put the Belgium side firmly in control early in the match.   New Zealand managed to regain their composure and earn several penalty corners as the quarter wore on. The Belgium defence was stoic and continued to frustrate the New Zealand team who were unable to create any clear scoring opportunities.   New Zealand started the second quarter in the best possible fashion when Gemma McCaw in her first international match in three years managed to find the back of the net and tie the game up at one goal apiece.   The Kiwis then ramped up the pressure on the Belgium defence as they went close to hitting the lead on several occasions just before the half time break.   Early in the second half, the New Zealand team suffered a setback when Olivia Shannon was sent from the field, forcing the Black Sticks to play with only ten for the next five minutes.   Despite the setback, New Zealand was able to apply significant pressure on the Belgium defence however their goalkeeper continued to come up big.   With ten minutes remaining in the match, the Belgium team stormed into the New Zealand circle to earn their second penalty corner. Belgium then converted the subsequent penalty corner off a sweep shot past the New Zealand defence. This put Belgium in the box seat for the match as they looked to secure points in every one of their first three matches of the FIH Pro League.   With time winding down, the Kiwis pulled their goalkeeper as they searched for the equalizing goal. As time wound down, Gemma McCaw had a great shot that went just wide of the outside post as the Belgium team would hold their nerve against the home side.   The teams will return to the turf tomorrow for their second match of the weekend.     Vantage Black Sticks Women 1 (Gemma McCaw 17 min) Belgium 2 (Ambre Ballenghien 2 min, Anne-Sophie Weyns 51 min)  


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