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FIH PRO LEAGUE- New Zealand put a tough week behind them to produce a solid performance

   The Vantage Black Sticks Women have put a tough week behind them to put together a convincing 3-1 win over the United States Women. Olivia Merry and Olivia Shannon continued their goalscoring form for the New Zealand side as they helped the Kiwis secure their second win of the FIH Hockey Pro League.   The two sides walked out onto the Ngā Puna Wai pitch on a sombre note, following the passing of their longtime strength and conditioning coach Brad Conza. Once the match got underway, the Kiwis were playing with some great speed as they looked to run the United States off the pitch.   In the fourth minute of the contest, it was the USA which looked to have opened the scoring for the match when the New Zealand defence was caught napping and left the USA striker open at the top of the circle. The reverse stick shot found its way past Grace O’Hanlon. New Zealand managed to successfully review the shot which would be overturned due to a back of the stick.   Playing with a renewed confidence after a tough encounter with Great Britain the previous week. Eventually, after some significant, sustained pressure the New Zealand side was able to get themselves onto the scoresheet when Olivia Merry smashed the ball into the bottom of the goal. This took Merrys goalscoring total to five for the 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League.   The start of the second quarter saw the Kiwis continue to play with some great flow and pace as they looked to shift the USA defence and open up the passing lanes in the middle of the field.   The lead was extended in the 22nd minute when a New Zealand penalty corner came off the crossbar, Olivia Shannon then jumped on the rebound as she would smash in the shot to double the Kiwis buffer.   As the second quarter started to wind down, the Black Sticks took it up another level and went close on several occasions as they looked to put the USA significantly on the backfoot. Despite the weight of possession favouring the Kiwis, they were unable to extend their lead before the half.   Needing to put together a clinical second half the Kiwis started outstandingly when Stacey Michelsen managed to slice through the USA defence and complete a flick pass to Rose Keddell. Keddell then reversed the ball into the top of the goal to put the New Zealand side in a commanding 3-0 lead.   As the contest looked to be getting away from them the United States, they managed to claw one goal back after a penalty stroke was awarded due to a hard stick challenge. Ali Campbell roofed her flick into the top of the net as the USA looked to battle themselves back into the contest.   The match seemed to run out of steam in the final quarter as neither side was able to construct any significant chances as the score would remain the same which would see the Black Sticks take out a 3-1 win.
The teams will now turn their attention to tomorrow when they will battle for the second time this weekend from Ngā Puna Wai.   Vantage Black Sticks 3 (Olivia Merry 13 min, Olivia Shannon 22 min, Rose Keddell 33 min)
USA 1 (Ali Campbell 44 min)  


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