New Zealand women's hockey coach Mark Hager wanted to find out a little more about his side in the two-test series against Korea and concluded they rely heavily on captain Kayla Sharland during a 4-3 defeat in Auckland tonight.
Sharland didn't play in the first test and it showed as the Black Sticks missed her experience and allowed four goals to be scored against them.
"We deliberately didn't have Kayla playing these games because we want to test out other players and give them a chance ahead of World Cup,'' Hager said. "But it goes to show that we really miss Kayla's tenacity and leadership in defence.
"We are looking at what other players within the squad can play in that deep defensive position.''
Neither coach would have been happy with the opening 20 minutes of the game as both sides turned over possession and missed a handful of good opportunities.
Korea finally took advantage of a defensive lapse, scoring through Mi Hyun Park.
The Black Sticks showed more composure and created chances in the second quarter and Gemma Flynn levelled the scores after a goalmouth scramble. Things seemed to be on track when Anita Punt fired a penalty corner into the top right-hand corner one minute before halftime.
The second half was a see-saw affair as both sides traded goals.
It started when Yun Kyoung Cho scored, then the Kiwis snatched back the lead through Sian Fremaux. The Koreans equalised when Mi Hyun Park scored her second, however, Korea captain Jong Eun Kim scored the winner seven minutes from time.
Petrea Webster had a chance to grab a draw in the final minute but her shot from the top of the circle was well blocked.
The Black Sticks will meet Korea in the second test in Auckland tomorrow before heading to Taupo for two games against China.
They are using the games as preparation for next month's Haweks Bay Festival, when they take on Australia, Argentina, Korea, Japan and China.
New Zealand 3 (Gemma Flynn, Anita Punt, Sian Fremaux), Korea Mi Hyun Park 2, Yun Kyoung Cho, Jong Eun Kim). HT: 2-1.