Black Sticks lose first game at Olympics

Last updated 11:05 03/08/2012
New Zealand's Gemma Flynn has a crack at goal during their women's hockey match against Argentina at the London Olympics.
New Zealand's Gemma Flynn has a crack at goal during their women's hockey match against Argentina at the London Olympics.

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The Black Sticks remain upbeat despite suffering their first loss of the Olympic women's hockey tournament, 2-1 to Argentina this morning.

Down 2-0 late in the game, the Black Sticks did score with seven minutes remaining but try as they might they could not find the equaliser against the world's No 2 ranked side.

Click on photo at left for some great action shots from the game.

The result brings the Black Sticks back to the pack and into a four way tie for first place on six points with Germany, Australia, and Argentina.

New Zealand's remaining games are against United States on Sunday and world No 3 Germany on Tuesday.

"I'm proud of the girls, I thought the performance was pretty good apart from the first half when we were stand-offish and apprehensive," coach Mark Hager said.

"In the second half we took it to them so I'm not disappointed at all, they gave it 100 per cent.

"It is only one loss, we have to win the next game simple as that to give.

"If you had of told me we would only have one loss after three games I'd have taken it quite comfortably. The disappointing thing is we blew a chance to kick away from the group but that is life."

The Black Sticks suffered a setback five hours before the game when Emily Naylor was ruled out because of a back injury.  Naylor was down to play her 200th game.

Hager felt her presence in the midfield was missed and disrupted combinations.

Naylor has a bulging disc in her back, which flares up from time to time, but Hager was confident she would be fit to play against the United States.

There were two crucial moments in the game and both resulted in goals for Argentina.

After two minutes Kayla Sharland failed to trap a pass in defence and Carla Rebeechi seized on the mistake cut into the circle and smoked the ball past goalkeeper Bianca Russell.

Then in the 45th minute, Black Sticks striker Cathryn Finlayson fluffed a clear shot on goal and play instantly swept down field and Rebeechi finished off some good work by Rosario Luchetti.

Sharland was mortified by her mistake, blaming "just bad basics".

"I made a missed trap and they pounced on it and got a good shot away."

Sharland said the 9.15pm start was not an excuse for their slow beginning. Their previous two games have been early morning affairs, resulting in victories.

"We have practised it before. It was just a very long day waiting around," she said.

To the Black Sticks credit they mounted a comeback and Charlotte Harrison had her second goal in as many matches when she tapped in a goal bound shot by Gemma Flynn with seven minutes left. However, that was where it ended.

Anita Punt took a painful blow on an elbow late in the game but Hager did not believe it was serious.

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