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FIH PRO LEAGUE-Black Sticks Women go back to back against the USA

The Vantage Black Sticks Women have worked their way past a determined USA team for a 3-1 victory and back to back wins for the first time in the 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League. New Zealand Captain Stacey Michelsen was instrumental in two of the New Zealand goals and was a constant threat throughout the match.

After a convincing performance in their first match yesterday the Vantage Black Sticks Women were aiming to back that up with another quality performance against the USA. An outright win would move the Kiwis into the top three of the FIH Hockey Pro League.

The match started with the New Zealand team going immediately onto the ascendency; the Kiwis constructed wave after wave against the USA defence. The Kiwis were unable to get off any clear shots in the early part of the match as the American last line was brave and not giving an inch on the pitch.

A first quarter that was dominated by the home side New Zealand was unable to return any goals for either side as the two teams went into the break tied at 0-0.

The second quarter started positively when Kelsey Smith managed to find an American foot in the circle. Olivia Merry, the FIH Hockey Pro Leagues, leading goal scorer then stepped up and converted the penalty corner with a powerful shot into the edge of the goal.

Not wanting to let the game get away from them only moments later the USA stormed into the Kiwis circle and pulled out a well placed reverse stick shot, Grace O’Hanlon scrambled well to close down the angle and nullify the threat.

Late in the second quarter, the Kiwis earned themselves a second penalty corner, this time the Kiwis went for a variation for a diving Gemma McCaw on the post. Her deflection would go on to hit the post to deny the New Zealanders their second goal.

Stacey Michelsen kickstarted the Kiwis in the second half when she managed to weave her way through the middle of the American defence before she would go on to power in a reverse tomahawk to put the New Zealand side in a commanding 2-0 lead.

New Zealand constructed several more scoring chances as the third quarter started to wind down, despite the significant disparity in possession and circle entries the Kiwis couldn’t build on their lead as they looked to play the USA out of the match.

The American side needed an early goal in the final quarter as they attempted to work their way back into the contest. Right on cue, the Americans were inspired by an outstanding drive along the baseline by Danielle Grega; Grace O’Hanlon made the initial save before the rebound would be tapped in by Grega.

New Zealand was able to regain their two-goal buffer when Stacey Michelsen drove along the baseline and threaded the needle with an outstanding ball across the goal for Alia Jaques to touch the ball into the back of the goal.

Following the third goal by the Black Sticks side, the USA were unable to claw their way back into the contest as they would go on to fall 3-1.
Vantage Black Sticks Women 3 (Olivia Merry 16 min, Stacey Michelsen 38 min, Alia Jaques 54 min)
USA 1 (Danielle Grega 47 min)


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