Hockey: Shootout shakes

By Andrew Alderson

The body language says it all after Krystal Forgesson's penalty stroke miss. Photo / Getty Images
The body language says it all after Krystal Forgesson's penalty stroke miss. Photo / Getty Images

Striker Katie Glynn says she messed up her penalty stroke in the shootout against Australia because she changed her mind.

Before the Silver Ferns' breathtaking double extra-time victory over Australia, the women's hockey team's nail-biting penalty shootout was probably the most tension-filled moment of the Games for New Zealand.

The psychology surrounding such pressure and tension is tricky - and Glynn acknowledges she made a mistake as she looked at the goal with her penalty stroke after the 2-2 draw with Australia after extra time.

"In the Oceania Cup last year, we were in the same position [and won on penalties]. I took the first stroke and was successful.

"I have a signature stroke but I let myself down the other day by questioning and changing my thinking," she says. "You can't put yourself in two minds because there is pressure to convert. There's a lot going through your head and it happens so quickly.

"You have to practise. I don't look at the goalkeeper or the goal. I just took a few deep breaths in front of that big crowd and tried to block everything out."

Unfortunately, the block came from Australian goalkeeper Rachael Lynch.

"A number of the girls said they were quite shaky. It was the biggest game in the careers for many of us, so it was hard not to be nervous," said Glynn, who smashed her stick on the ground walking back.

Krystal Forgesson gave her stick a heave at a nearby hoarding after her penalty shot flew wide. It's hard to blame them; such is the emotion and stress built up for each crucial stroke.

Forgesson describes the situation: "I was nervous. That's what happens, it's not nice. But it is definitely the right way to finish the game, especially in that [mid-30 degree] heat. You need to break the deadlock.

"I try to block out what is around me, and try to remember what we practised in training. That stadium was making a lot of noise."

In contrast, the men won their penalty shootout against England to capture the bronze medal.

Shea McAleese hit home the fifth and final winner for the Black Sticks men while goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex made the crucial save that delivered them to the dais.

Psychology did not play a major part for McAleese: "I just flicked it in as hard as I could. It was a pressure moment but the guys put faith in me.

"Penalty strokes are a tough way to finish a tournament but someone has to give. I'm just glad it wasn't us."

Men's coach Shane McLeod says the selection of who takes the shots can be tricky.

"We have an array of players who can do it. It's about who puts their hand up and who puts it down at the time.

"Some were pretty quick to do that [put them down] but the ones who put them up did well. They were composed."

One consolation for the New Zealand women is that their efforts have suddenly made them more marketable for sponsors leading into the London Olympic campaign.

Glynn says: "This has been a great opportunity to showcase what we're capable of. We're hard trainers with limited funding. It's hard holding down jobs with that training commitment and, for many of us, part-time study."

Forgesson claims potential employers have seen them on their screens in Delhi over the past fortnight - and a couple of job offers have rolled in.

"There has been the odd rumour floating around we were the best-looking team in the competition which can't hurt," she joked.

"Some girls were going for jobs at home and they have since been sent letters of acceptance."

- NZ Herald

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