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FIH PRO LEAGUE- Black Sticks Women held to a draw Argentina

The Vantage Black Sticks Women have drawn their opening match of the weekend against Argentina with a tight 1-1 tie. The Kiwis led until late in the game when Argentina was able to get themselves onto the scoreboard to send the match to a penalty shootout. The Argentina side would hold their nerve to take the penalty shootout 3-1.   Black Sticks captain Stacey Michelsen said of the performance “We started well, we had plenty of opportunities to get around their shape. We lost some structure in the second half which let them back into the match. On Sunday we need to make sure we stick to our structure and if we can do that it will work well in the match”. 

The first quarter was a close battle as neither side was able to string any significant attacking sequences together. As the first quarter wound down, both teams had an opportunity with a penalty corner, on each occasion, it was the opposing team’s defence that would prove too much as we would finish the first quarter tied at 0-0.

Early in the second quarter, the Vantage Black Sticks got themselves onto the scoreboard when a great ball into the circle from Katie Doar found Olivia Shannon who then powered a forehand through to Hope Ralph touched it home for the first international goal of her career.

New Zealander continued to play with confidence and flair as the second quarter continued; however, they were unable to extend their lead despite going close on several occasions late in the second quarter. At half time the Black Sticks were holding onto a narrow 1-0 lead.

Both teams looked to open up the field in the second half as the pace of the game sped up, and the game was stretched out. With plenty of space on the field, both teams were able to create several opportunities only to be denied by desperate defence from the opposition.
Late in the third quarter, Argentina was able to tie the match up when an excellent baseline run was then laid back to a scrambling Agustina Albertarrio who was able to beat the Kiwis to the ball and deflect home the ball into the goal.

As the fourth quarter started, the New Zealand team were looking to put this young Argentina side under the pump as they attempted to rattle them and put themselves back in front.

With the two sides struggling to hold onto possession early in the final quarter, it was the Vantage Black Sticks who earned the first real opportunity of the quarter when Holly Pearson found an Argentina foot in the circle. The subsequent penalty corner saw New Zealand get several shots at goal. However, the Argentina goal-line defence was brave and wouldn’t allow the ball to cross the line.

As the match was seemingly headed towards a draw, Argentina began to ramp up the pressure on the Kiwis and would break down the field and test the New Zealand defensive line. Each wave continued to be nullified by a composed Black Sticks defence.
Vantage Black Sticks Women 1 (Hope Ralph 19 min)
Argentina 1 (Agustina Albertarrio 37 min)
*Argentina won the shootout 3-1

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