Hockey: Black Sticks edge United States

By Kris Shannon

The Black Sticks beat the United States 3-2 at Lloyd Elsmore park today. Photo / File
The Black Sticks beat the United States 3-2 at Lloyd Elsmore park today. Photo / File

New Zealand have beaten the United States 3-2 at Lloyd Elsmore Park in Auckland today, leaving them within touching distance of a second straight final.

The Black Sticks women won last week's four nations tournament at North Harbour, beating Australia 3-2 in the final. Today's win means the world No 6 New Zealand will make the final of this week's competition - between the same four sides - if they beat India on Saturday.

Today's performance was less impressive than last week's 3-1 victory over the world No 10 United States, but it still provided a vital tune-up for Mark Hager's side before the London Olympics.

New Zealand went to the halftime break with a 2-1 lead, thanks to goals from Charlotte Harrison and Gemma Flynn. The Black Sticks were probably fortunate to hold an advantage, after starting the half the slower of the two teams.

The United States went ahead through their second penalty corner after 10 minutes, with Rachel Dawson's low shot turned in by New Zealand defender Emily Naylor as she tried to clear.

The Black Sticks struggled to hit back, with passes being misplaced and consistent spells of possession proving elusive. But one such passage of play provided the equaliser, with Harrison deflecting in a shot by Krystal Forgesson after a goalmouth scramble.

And, despite failing to convert three penalty corners, New Zealand took the lead right on halftime. A nice run through the middle from Anita Punt saw the ball fall to Flynn who swept in from the left.

The Black Sticks boosted their lead four minutes after halftime when Katie Glynn's close-range shot was too powerful for Amy Swensen in the American goal. But the two-goal advantage didn't last for long, with Keli Smith-Puzo tapping in to reduce the deficit after some fine work on the byline by Katie Reinprecht.

That was it for the scoring, though Kayla Sharland had a goal chalked off from a penalty corner, leaving New Zealand a win away from a probable rematch against Australia who beat India earlier today.

- APNZ

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