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FIH PRO LEAGUE-Black Sticks rebound in style against world number two Argentina

After losing in a shootout to Argentina on Friday evening, the Vantage Black Sticks Women have rebounded impressively with a 5-3 win over the South American Champions. A four-goal masterclass led the home side by the competitions leading goalscorer Olivia Merry who took her tournament total to 10 goals.

After her goal-scoring clinic, Olivia Merry commented “We put in a good 30-minute performance. We need to continue to aim to put together the full 60-minute performance. We looked excellent when we moved the ball early and passed the ball around Argentina.”

The match started with the Black Sticks playing with great speed and determination on the attacking end of the field.

In only the third minute of the match, Olivia Merry found some space in the Argentina circle as she managed to get off a difficult shot that rocketed into the Argentina goal.

As the quarter wore on both sides were looking to construct attacking opportunities. Neither team was able to string any significant play together until New Zealand eventually earned a penalty corner in the 11th minute of the match. Olivia Merry then stepped up and with her trademark hit slammed another ball into the goal.

An outstanding first quarter for the Kiwis was capped off when the Olivia Merry onslaught continued as she scored her third of the match off another sweep from a penalty corner that took a deflection off the Argentina first runner.

The Kiwis looked to maintain the pressure early in the second quarter when they created multiple scoring opportunities. This time the Argentina defence was up to the task as they kept the New Zealand attack at bay.

Argentina managed to keep their hopes alive with a reverse stick shot into the bottom left of the goal making the score 3-1 at the halftime break.

Maria Granatto set the game on fire when her flick at the start of the second quarter went over the outstretched Grace O’Hanlon and into the back of the net.

As the third quarter continued, the Argentina side were playing with a newfound attacking flair as they looked to catch the Kiwis and tie the match up. The Argentinians were starving the New Zealand team of the ball, and the frustration was starting to show as Frances Davies was sent from the field.

After being forced to absorb plenty of pressure, the New Zealand side got themselves a couple of penalty corners. However this time the Argentina penalty corner defence was up to the task.

A great break down the field by the New Zealanders finished with Olivia Merry putting a great shot through the diving Argentina players before being touched over the line by Hope Ralph who scored her second goal of the weekend.

Not going away quietly, the South Americans struck back almost instantly when the ball struck the Black Sticks on the foot on their own goal resulting in a penalty stroke. Agustina Gorzelany calmly stepped up and flicked in the stroke to bring Argentina back within one
With less than seven minutes on the clock remaining the Black Sticks looked to finish off the Argentina side when an excellent baseline run from Stacey Michelsen was laid back to the sport for Olivia Merry to score her fourth goal of the match.

Argentina desperately tried to find the two needed goals in the dying moments of the match. The New Zealand side held their nerve to close off a historic win and their first since 2018 over Argentina.

Vantage Black Sticks Women 5 (Olivia Merry 3, 11, 13, 54 min, Hope Ralph 47 min)
Argentina 3 (Maria Granatto 26, 31 min, Agustina Gorzelany 48 min)


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