Kayla Sharland marked her return to the Black Sticks in style as New Zealand booked a spot in the Four Nations final with a 5-0 victory over the United States in Whangarei today.
Sharland scored one goal and saved another as the Black Sticks used a strong second half performance to earn their second win of the tournament. Korea awaits the Black Sticks in tomorrow's final (3.30pm) and New Zealand will be looking to exact revenge after losing Wednesday's tournament opener to the Koreans 4-3.
In a fast paced first half New Zealand took the lead when Sian Fremaux scored a fortuitous goal shortly before halftime just minutes after the United States were denied a definite goal by returning New Zealand skipper Sharland. Sharland, playing in her first game for New Zealand since the London Olympics, calmly flicked a waste high shot over her own goal while standing as the last line of defence.
Back to back diving saves by New Zealand goalie Bianca Russell denied the US on consecutive penalty corner attempts midway through second half before yet again the Black Sticks went straight down the other end to score, this time in more speculator fashion.
Sharland slotted a reverse shot past the US goalie following a slick one two pass with Katie Glynn.
From there the floodgates opened as Anita Punt made it 3-0 five minutes later with a drag flick goal from a penalty corner while Krystal Forgesson picked netted the fourth following goalmouth scramble. Petrea Webster then scored New Zealand's fifth just before fulltime to give the Black Sticks some much needed momentum heading into tomorrow's final.
Korea earlier booked a spot in the final by recording their second win after holding off a late fight back by Argentina to win 4-3.