It was a different Black Sticks side that took to the field tonight at North Harbour Hockey Stadium – they showed more control with the ball, were uncompromising on defence – and they beat world number one side Argentina 2-1.
It was the Black Sticks that were celebrating tonight, thanks to two goals in the second half from Midlands player Clarissa Eshuis and Cathryn Finlayson.
There were no goals scored in the first half due to some incredible saves by Black Stick goalkeeper Sally Rutherford.
Argentina was the first team to be awarded a penalty corner and that was not until the 15th minute, but Emily Naylor successfully saved the ball on the line and cleared it from the circle.
The first half saw the team attack with more confidence than they showed in last night’s performance and Kayla Sharland took a number of reverse stick shots at goal, but like the Black Sticks, the Argentineans stayed strong on defence.
The score remained locked up until the 58th minute when Eshuis was awarded two penalty corners and she successfully scored with her second flick, with the ball going above the goalkeeper’s glove and into the top of the net.
Although the spirits of the Black Sticks were lifted, the counter attack from the Argentineans was inevitable and it was six minutes later that Daniela Sruoga scored her second goal of the series, this time from a clever variation of a penalty corner.
With the score all locked up, the Black Sticks needed something magic to win, and it came when Cathryn Finlayson scored the winning goal in the final minute when she pounced on a loose ball in the circle and swept it into the corner of the goal. It was Finlayson’s third goal of the series.
The team’s win tonight means that the series has been drawn.
The Black Sticks Women’s next major international is the Champions Trophy in Amsterdam at the end of June where they will play seven of the world’s top ranked teams.
Tonight’s match was a tribute to ex Black Stick Amanda Hooper (nee Christie) who lost her life when the Pyne Gould Corporation Building collapsed in the Christchurch earthquake. The collection from the crowd at half time raised over $1,300, which will be gifted to her family.
Furthermore, from 5pm tomorrow there will be a signed shirt, by both the Black Sticks and Argentinean teams, posted on Trade Me. All proceeds from the auction will go to Amanda’s family.
Well done Sticks!!