Hockey: Black Sticks women fall to Netherlands

By David Leggat

Black Sticks player Stacey Michelsen. Photo / John Stone.
Black Sticks player Stacey Michelsen. Photo / John Stone.

New Zealand were taught a harsh lesson on the opening day of the Champions Trophy women's hockey tournament in London today, beaten 6-2 by world No 1 the Netherlands.

The Dutch capitalised on a stream of penalty corner opportunities, with star attacker Maartje Paumen scoring from four of them.

The world No 4 Black Sticks had fought back from 2-0 down to draw level in the 40th minute only to conceded three goals in a disappointing fourth quarter.

''They are the best team in the world at penalty corner attacks so it was about minimising them," captain for the day Stacey Michelsen said."We can't afford to give that many (nine) away."

The outcome of the game may have swung on a crucial umpiring decision to reverse the initial awarding of a goal to Charlotte Harrison just before the end of the third quarter, with the Dutch 3-2 up but New Zealand in their best patch of the match.

Harrison appeared to get the finest of touches to a Michelsen drive to score. However after checking a replay several times, the umpires ruled it out in what Michelsen admitted ''was a very hard one to tell".

The Dutch, who had won a warmup match between the teams 2-0 in Rotterdam earlier in the week, eased away in the final quarter to win well. They had roughly double the shots on goal of the Black Sticks and a two to one penalty corner advantage.

New Zealand were under pressure early and went behind in the 10th minute when Paumen capitalised from the first Dutch penalty corner. Paumen's drive deflected off goalkeeper Amelia Gibson's glove and she would have been disappointed not to have stopped it.

The Netherlands doubled the lead while Black Sticks midfielder Ella Gunson was serving a tough 10-minute punishment for a tackle, Paumen beating Gibson with a strong shot.

However New Zealand got back into the contest when Harrison was on hand to neatly deflect a Kirsten Pearce drive into the Dutch goal just before halftime.

Michelsen got New Zealand back to 2-2 six minutes after halftime with a clever overhead shot from close range, akin to a tennis smash. The third quarter was New Zealand's best and Olivia Merry and Liz Thompson both had chances.

Kelly Jonker's first goal had the Dutch 3-2 up going into the final quarter at which point the world No 1 raised their game to ease clear.

Jonker got her second and Paumen added two more goals, one with a fine reverse stick drive after her penalty corner shot rebounded back to her.

Merry, Harrison, Anita McLaren and Sophie Cocks all had good moments in attack while Thompson and Brooke Neal worked hard to keep the free-running Dutch attackers at bay.

The other two games on day one of the tournament were drawn 2-2, between Argentina and Britain, and Australia and the United States.

New Zealand play world No 3 Australia in their second game on Monday.

''We're really disappointed with that game and now we'll focus on how we can come up better against Australia," Michelsen said.

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