World’s top goal-scorer claims consecutive Player of the Year awards
It’s been two years of records and awards for Vantage Black Sticks striker Olivia Merry.
The 29-year-old was named Black Sticks Women’s 2020 Player of the Year at the Hockey New Zealand Awards on Friday in recognition of her phenomenal goal-scoring form. It was her second Player of the Year accolade after collecting the 2019 award.
In the interrupted 2020 FIH Pro League, Merry claimed 10 goals – including two four-goal efforts – to sit on top of the goal-scoring table for the second year in a row.
Her fourth goal in a 4-1 victory over Belgium on 2 February 2020 took Merry past Anita McLaren for the all-time record of 106 goals for the Black Sticks. The Canterbury striker now sits on 112 goals for her country.
Vantage Black Sticks Head Coach Graham Shaw said Merry had hit incredible heights in the last two years.
“Olivia is one of the hardest working athletes I’ve had the pleasure to work with … and she represents that jersey with such pride.”
“I firmly rate her as the best striker in the world right now.”
Merry was also in scintillating form in 2019 as she again led the FIH Pro League in goals with a whopping 15 to her name. She also had an outstanding Oceania Cup to ensure the Vantage Black Sticks qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
To cap off her 2019 season, Merry was nominated for the FIH Player of the Year award alongside captain Stacey Michelsen.
Under-21 Player of the Year
Meanwhile fellow Black Sticks striker Olivia Shannon followed in Merry’s footsteps winning the Vantage Black Sticks Women’s Under-21 Player of the Year award for the second year in a row.
The Manawatu 19-year-old scored her first goals for her country in 2020, grabbing a double to help the Black Sticks draw with Great Britain 2-2 at the new National Hockey Centre in early February.
Shannon was also in fine form in the new Sentinel Homes Premier Hockey League helping her Central Falcons to the inaugural title.
Shaw said that Shannon’s performances in 2019 and 2020 hinted at the sort of the player she was going to be in the future.
“Olivia has a mindset and a work ethic way beyond her years, and an exceptional attitude to get better every day. We look forward to watching her progress.”
- May 2nd, 2021 in