Wellington: FIH Hockey Pro League 2022/23 action continued from Wellington, as hosts New Zealand took on USA in the second game between the two sides. New Zealand, who had registered draws in their opening two encounters, registered their first win of the season, scoring three unanswered goals in the second half, after the teams had gone into the half on level terms on Saturday.
New Zealand vs USA 4-1
New Zealand started the game in the perfect fashion, making their possession and territory count by winning a penalty corner inside the first five minutes. Captain Megan Hull went for the slap shot on the penalty corner which prompted Kelsey Bing to go prone on the ground, but Hull’s shot was perfectly placed into the corner and snuck in between the post defender and the right post to give the hosts a perfect start. USA were the better team to end the quarter, but could not make their good spell count. Their best scoring opportunity came from a penalty corner, but Golini’s attempted hit was too high and deemed dangerous.
USA continued to maintain their positive intent and kept possession in the Black Stick’s half. They got their reward in the 20th minute as Golini penetrated the circle from the right and found Leah Crouse. Crouse dribbled away from the goal to open up space and lifted a reverse flick over the keeper and into the goal to deservedly bring her team level. Neither team could get a stranglehold on possession for the rest of the half as USA retreated from their high press, keeping the teams level at half-time.
USA started the second half with a high press but it was New Zealand who found the space behind the American defence on a counter-attack. Olivia Shannon received the ball on the right with her back to the goal, with a defender on her back and on a tight angle, but her quick reverse push shot hit the far post and went into the goal, with Bing unsighted and unable to react. USA had an opportunity to strike back almost immediately as a messy turnover by New Zealand in their own defence gave the ball to Caarls who had Crouse free ahead of her, with just the keeper to beat, but Caarls’ pass did not have enough weight and allowed the Kiwi defenders to get back and tackle before Crouse could gather the ball.
USA thought they had pulled level in the final quarter as a turnover by New Zealand allowed Olivia Bent-Cole to receive the ball in the circle, take it on her reverse and smash a powerful tomahawk shot into the goal. USA celebrated, but umpire Rachel Williams had spotted a back-stick and used her own referral and the video umpire confirmed the back stick by Bent-Cole on the shot. It was a double blow for USA, as a minute later they conceded in the strangest fashion. Wolgemuth made a hash of blocking a cross from the left and the ball hit her stick and bobbled over the legs of Bing who was right behind her, and fell to Hannah Cotter who had an empty goal to tap the ball into. New Zealand added a fourth as USA substituted the keeper and then conceded a penalty corner that was dispatched with ease by Megan Hull, putting the game beyond the visitor’s reach and sealing all 3 points for the Black Sticks.
Rose Tynan was awarded player of the match and said: “Credit to USA, they made it really tough on us and the game was really close till the final minutes, but we kept pushing and the goals came for us. We can tighten up even further and play better in the game against China tomorrow.”
FIH Pro League – 25 February 2023
National Hockey Center, Wellington (NZL)
Result: Women’s Match 23
New Zealand 4-1 USA
Player of the Game: Rose Tynan (NZL)
Umpires: Junko Wagatsuma (JPN), Rachel Williams (ENG), Cookie Tan (SGP-video)
–FIH report and photo