The New Zealand women's hockey team lost 3-2 to Germany in their second game at the World League semifinal in Rotterdam yesterday.
After a lacklustre first half from the Kiwis, all the action came in the last four minutes when Charlotte Harrison and Kayla Sharland netted two goals and the Black Sticks desperately tried to equalise.
Despite a frantic last-effort attempt, they couldn't pull off the win they wanted and Germany moved to the top of Pool B's points table.
"We are disappointed with the way we started. We were on the back foot in the first 20 minutes and if you give a side like Germany that much space it is very hard to come back," head coach Mark Hager said.
"Germany is a team with good basic skills and unless you put them under real pressure, they won't make mistakes. There were times when we did have opportunities and we didn't convert, and that's something we will learn from."
The Germans made a terrific start to the match, quickly opening up a 2-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes thanks to strikes from team captain Julia Muller and Eileen Hoffman.
Germany had ten shots on goal compared to New Zealand's three during the first half, and at times the Kiwis were found scrambling to clear the ball.
Gemma Flynn, who had an outstanding game, set up a good goal for Krystal Forgesson later on in the half, but it was not to be for the Kiwis.
Throughout the second half the score remained locked at 2-0. The game changed dramatically in the last four minutes when Germany were carded and dropped to ten players and Hager made the call to replace goalkeeper Bianca Russell with an outfield player.
The tactic paid off almost immediately when Cassandra Reid crossed to Harrison who slammed one home in the 66th minute, however, Germany re-established their two-goal advantage when Franzisca Hauke picked up an overhead pass before sending the ball into an open goal.
In the final minute, Sharland, who was again instrumental , found herself unmarked at the top of the circle and made it count but it was not enough to deny Germany the victory.
Germany are now at the top of Pool B on six points, followed by the Black Sticks on three. Belgium and India drew 1-1 so have picked up one point each.
The Black Sticks Women play their next game against Belgium at midnight tonight (Sun, NZT).
The top three teams from the World League Semi-Final automatically qualify for the 2014 Hockey World Cup, although it is possible to earn qualification at the tournament with a lower ranking. New Zealand will also have a chance to qualify at the Oceania Cup in Taranaki this October.
Germany 3 (Julia Mller, Eileen Hoffmann, Franzisca Hauke )
New Zealand 2 (Charlotte Harrison, Kayla Sharland)