It was a happy bunch of girls as we made our way back to our hotel on Sunday night.
A 3-1 win over the highly rated China was just what we needed after struggling to subdue a gallant India in round one on Saturday. There were some nerve-racking moments before we came away with a 1-nil win at the Hawke's Bay Cup tournament on Saturday.
The girls were a little bit disappointed with our first-up effort against India. We definitely created a lot of attacking opportunities but probably weren't clinical enough in the attacking circle. That will be something that we will have to address as we get towards the finals of the Festival of Hockey.
On Sunday, it was a different story against the fifth-placed China. We were more structured and held the ball a lot better than we did against India. That allowed us to shift it around their defence and this created more opportunities for our forwards.
We also seemed to make better decisions in the attacking circle which allowed us to create more clear-cut shooting opportunities. The game was probably a little too close for too long but, once China lost two players to the bin, we were able to score two goals and put the match out of their reach.
It was definitely pleasing that, as the match went on, we began to dominate both territory and possession and that created pressure on China. The pressure finally told and they made a few mistakes which cost the two players for five minutes each and they paid the price.
It is awesome that we have been able to get wins in the first two rounds and now we are the only unbeaten team in the tournament.
These were games that we had really focussed on, as we needed to get away to a strong start at the tournament. Obviously we have to play our final pool match against Ireland this evening at 6 o'clock but so far, so good.
To get a good draw into Thursday's quarter-finals, you can't afford to slip up and have to be pretty consistent.
The two wins have set us up well for the playoff phase.
While the coaching staff were obviously happy to have the wins under our belts, they still didn't give us a day off yesterday. We had a light gym session in the morning and training at the turf in the afternoon, so it was pretty much business as usual.
Today is a work day, but I hope you can find the time to get to the Regional Sports Park this evening at 6pm for our match against Ireland. The crowd on Sunday certainly gave us a boost and it would be nice to see another big crowd today.
See you at the Festival of Hockey.
- Stacey Michelsen was captain of the Black Sticks for their match with China on Sunday.