The Black Sticks Women have come away with an impressive 3-1 win over the United States on a cold and blustery Auckland evening.
After a 20 minute delay in the action due to some torrid Auckland rain, play finally got underway in the must-win Pro League match.
The Black Sticks started strongly, taking the ball off the United States on the first play and going close to opening the score.
The United States managed scramble on defence and deflect the ball wide of the goal. The Black Sticks continued to push hard and were making things difficult for the USA to clear their half.
Despite a number of attacking plays, the USA Women were holding solidly in defence. Even though the weight of possession was against them, the United States ended up with the first penalty corner of the match after finding a New Zealand foot in the circle.
Grace O'Hanlon stopped the shot and the Black Sticks then looked to counter down the other end of the field. The United States then earned a second penalty corner but the Black Sticks' post defender managed to deflect the straight shot wide.
The second quarter started much the same way as the first had finished. Both sides created some scoring opportunities, yet neither side able to break through the final line of defence until Katie Doar entered the circle on the right side and sent a cross to Olivia Merry who deflected it into the goal.
Late in the second quarter, the Black Sticks increased their lead when Kirsten Pearce deflected home an amazing ball across the circle. At half time the score was 2-0 and the Black Sticks Women were looking incredibly strong on the offensive end and looked to close out the USA Women.
New Zealand looked positive early in the second half and were rewarded with their first penalty corner of the match. Ella Gunson stepped up and found a deft touch past the goalkeeper to put the Black Sticks up 3-0.
The United States continued to search for the goal to get themselves back in the match and earned their first penalty corner of the second half. The Black Sticks goal line defence was once more up to the task to keep their lead intact.
With three minutes to go Olivia Merry found herself open in the circle and reversed a shot which pinged straight off the crossbar.
As they entered an important final quarter the Black Sticks were in a strong position and they continued to attack with flair and creativity. The United States had the first penalty corner of the fourth quarter and were finally rewarded with a great set piece which featured two deflections.
Late in the fourth quarter, the United States earned another penalty corner, however, the Black Sticks defence kept the ball away from the goal and New Zealand kept their lead at 3-1 to secure the win.
The Black Sticks return to the turf tonight when they take on the women from Argentina.