Olympics: Black Sticks fall to Argentina

New Zealand Black Sticks player Krystal Forgesson in action against Argentina. Photo / Brett Phibbs
New Zealand Black Sticks player Krystal Forgesson in action against Argentina. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The floor the New Zealand men's hockey team are staying in the athletes' village was an unhappy place to be a couple of days ago and it's hard to imagine the mood around the women's team will be particularly bright after a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Argentina this morning (NZT).

The New Zealand's women's side missed out on a golden opportunity to almost guarantee themselves a place in the semifinals and, while they are still in a decent position having gone into the match as the only unbeaten side in their pool, they will look back on this match with Argentina as a missed opportunity.

They conceded two sloppy goals, forcing them to chase the game, and also couldn't convert large periods of dominance.

"We had enough opportunities, enough corners, we [missed] one in front," coach Mark Hager said.

"I'm proud of the girl, the way they played. We weren't outmuscled and we weren't outplayed.

"We gave our best but our best wasn't good enough. They converted their chances and we didn't."

The timing of the match might not have helped - their first two games were played early in the morning and they have been following a sleep programme to make sure they are alert in the morning - given this one tipped off at 9.15pm local time and under a full moon often peeking out from behind the clouds at Riverbank Arena.

They started poorly and gifted Argentina their first goal inside the first five minutes when Kayla Sharland lost possession deep in her own half and Carla Rebecchi took advantage.
The Black Sticks eventually found some rhythm and pegged Argentina in their own half for large periods of the remainder of the half, even forcing three penalty corners in quick succession, but couldn't capitalise.

Cathryn Finlayson created a great chance to score early in the second period but twice scuffed her shot and less than 30 seconds later New Zealand fell 2-0 behind when Rebecchi finished off a fast break.

They gave themselves a chance as the game opened up when Charlotte Harrison tapped in from close range but they also came under considerable pressure as they pushed numbers forward.

Group B is now condensed with four of the six teams on six points and New Zealand probably need a further four points from their two remaining pool games to guarantee a place in the semifinals.

They must beat the United States in their next match on Sunday morning (NZT) to keep their medal chances alive before their final pool game against Germany.

New Zealand 1 (Charlotte Harrison 62) Argentina 2 (Carla Rebecchi 5, 45). HT: 0-1.

- APNZ

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