Rio Olympics 2016: More heartbreak for women's hockey team

By David Leggat

Players from New Zealand react at the end of the match after losing to Germany during a women's field hockey bronze medal match. Photo / AP
Players from New Zealand react at the end of the match after losing to Germany during a women's field hockey bronze medal match. Photo / AP

New Zealand's inability to capitalise on a host of chances cost them dearly when they lost their women's hockey bronze medal match to Germany 2-1 in Rio today.

The result matches that of the London Olympics four years ago when New Zealand played poorly in the bronze decider and lost 3-1 to Britain. This time they had the opportunities against a determined German side but were unable to finish them off.

Two goals in three minutes in the third quarter from ninth-ranked Germany stunned the Black Sticks and although they got one back through Olivia Merry right on the hooter at the end of that period, it wasn't enough.

Players were in tears at the end of the match.

For some this will be their final chance to win an Olympic medal.

Captain Kayla Whitelock had to be consoled by coach Mark Hager after the final whistle.

She has had to put up with her share of bitter disappointment, at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games and the last Olympics. This is the end of the Olympics for one of the country's finest players.

"That's it for me," a tearful Whitelock said.

New Zealand, ranked fourth, will need to do some serious analysis after once more failing to deliver on the biggest stage.

"I can't fault the girls, they gave their all. It's gut-wrenching," New Zealand coach Mark Hager said.

"We just didn't finish our chances and they (Germany) got a couple of soft goals and that's what hurts the most."

Whitelock concurred.

"You don't score goals you can't win games."

New Zealand had more possession, more chances, more penalty corners but Germany, winning bronze for the first time to go with their gold and silver medals from 2004 and 1992 respectively, took their chances.

Charlotte Stapenhorst got the first after a cleverly worked move inside the New Zealand defensive circle, on hand to finish a cross from the left; and Lisa Schutze got the second after the defence failed to clear a bobbling ball and the German lifted the ball over two despairing attempted tackles.

Merry's goal, with some German assistance, came from a penalty corner shot which bounced back to her.

Goalkeeper Sally Rutherford was taken off for another outfield player five minutes and although they drove forward desperately,, Germany massed their defensive ranks and were good enough to hold on.

Gemma Flynn had a couple of great chances to score but couldn't finish them off; Anita McLaren drew a fine save from goalkeeper Kristina Reynolds from a penalty corner shot and Charlotte Harrison had a reverse stick drive blocked by Reynolds.

Germany's goals came after New Zealand had much the better of the second quarter. They had moved the ball about impressively at times, spreading it wide but New Zealand will reflect on another bitter Olympic experience.

"I am so gutted," midfielder Kelsey Smith, the youngest player in the squad, said.

"Especially for the girls who won't be back."

Germany had won their pool game, also 2-1, and overall this was their 11th win in 17 major tournament matches against the Black Sticks. It was the Germans' second win in four Olympic clashes since 2000.

In defender Nike Lourens, Germany had one of the best players on the park, with clever defending and astute distribution.

But New Zealand are left to once again lick their wounds.

Although it's no consolation their final placing matches their best at the Olympics.

- NZ Herald

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