Narrow Defeat by Home Team over Japan with Rio in Sight
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.
| To come away with a win at the tournament is great.
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 defense 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.”
Source: Hockey NZ