Black Sticks take out Hawke’s Bay Cup

Black Sticks take out Hawke’s Bay Cup

Black-Sticks-take-out-Hawke’s-Bay-CupThe Black Sticks Women are Hawke’s Bay Cup champions following an exciting 3-2 win over Japan in the final

The Black Sticks Women are Hawke’s Bay Cup champions following an exciting 3-2 win over Japan in the final.

New Zealand were relentless throughout the game, scoring three unanswered goals through Olivia Merry, Gemma Flynn and Kayla Whitelock against a strong defensive unit.

Japan caused a scare with two goals in the final five minutes of the match but the Kiwis held firm to seal the result and the title.

The Hawke’s Bay Cup is deserved reward for the in-form Black Sticks who won every game at the tournament, bettering last year’s silver medal finish.

Assistant coach Sean Dancer said winning the tournament was pleasing going forward towards the Rio Olympic Games in August.

“In the first half we opened it up and played some really good hockey. We lapsed a little bit at the end and gave them an opportunity to get back into it which isn’t good but it’s a good learning experience,” he said.

“We wanted to be on the front foot, aggressive and put pressure on their defence which we did well in the first half.

“We targeted this tournament as a key one leading into Rio so we certainly wanted to play well and get results against some good teams and we achieved that which is pleasing.”

Black Sticks captain Stacey Michelsen said the Hawke’s Bay Cup triumph was a glimpse at bigger things to come later in the year.

“To come away with a win at the tournament is great. We certainly make it into a lot of semis and finals but it’s been a long time since we’ve gone through to win, so we take a lot of confidence and belief going forward,” she said.

“Things are looking good for us later in the year and we have a very strong group of players vying for those finals spots in Rio.”

Merry scored the opening goal in the fourth minute after some messy defensive work saw the ball drop at her feet for a push past the goalkeeper.

New Zealand boosted the lead out to two goals just five minutes later when Whitelock put a precision pass in to Flynn who jinked right to left, beat the defender and smashed a shot into the back of the net.

There was no drop in intensity coming out of halftime with the Black Sticks creating a three goal buffer in the 33rd minute thanks to a strong ball into the circle which Whitelock deflected home.

Japan caught fire in the final five minutes with two quick field goals from Miyuki Nakagawa (55th minute) and Mie Nakashima (60th minute), but the clock was on the Black Sticks’ side.

In the bronze medal game, Australia walked away with third place at the tournament following a 3-1 win over China thanks to goals from Grace Stewart, Jodie Kenny and Georgie Morgan.

CLICK HERE for more on the Hawke’s Bay Cup

(Olivia Merry, Gemma Flynn, Kayla Whitelock)
JAPAN 2: (Miyuki Nakagawa, Mie Nakashima)
Halftime: Black Sticks 2-0

  • April 10th, 2016 in
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