The Black Sticks gained a meritorious 2-1 win against Olympic silver medallists Argentina in their second game of the Four Nations at the ITM Hockey Centre in Whangarei tonight.
New Zealand produced a more impressive effort to bounce back after losing their tournament opener 4-3 against Korea.
Argentina has brought across a full strength team for the Four Nations with the majority of players from their London Olympics squad. However star player Luciana Aymar (seven-time FIH world player of the year) is not due to play until the weekend having arrived in New Zealand only today.
The Black Sticks who played with confidence and created many opportunities with goals from Charlotte Harrison and Katie Glynn.
“I'm much happier tonight! We did the basics better, were more disciplined and we played for each other. I felt like last night we played as individuals, whereas tonight was much more of a team performance,” said head coach Mark Hager.
“There are some young players in this team and they are learning as we play each game. Now the challenge is to maintain that performance and play with consistency throughout the rest of the tournament,” says Hager.
He says there is no doubting that the USA will be a tough side when they play them on Saturday after tomorrow's rest day.
“We have a lot of respect for the work effort of the USA team, they never give up. So it will definitely be a tough game,” says Hager.
The first half goals came in the second quarter when Martina Cavallero dived dramatically and on a tight angle, hit it low to the keeper's right. New Zealand equalised when local player Harrison scored her second field goal of the tournament.
Argentina had the chance to take the lead just before half time when they were awarded a penalty corner, but New Zealand successfully cleared it.
Early on in the second half, both teams had ample opportunity including a cracking shot from Canterbury's Sian Fremaux, after a good set up by Glynn and penalty corners were awarded for both teams, but neither could convert.
In the final ten minutes, the Black Sticks attacked and continued to pressure Argentina until they were awarded a penalty corner and a clever variation led to Glynn finding the back of the net.
The Four Nations is an important tournament for the national selectors using it as an opportunity to test New Zealand's young talent against some top international teams. Following this tournament, a side will be selected for the FIH World League Semi-Final which is to be held in Rotterdam in June and is the qualification event for the 2014 World Cup.
In the earlier game, the USA accounted for Korea 2-1. The Americans made a flying start when Torrie Albini scored from a penalty corner in the opening minute. Korea got the equaliser in the 29th minute when Ok Ju Kim scored from a penalty corner variation.
Although USA dominated possession in the second half, when Korea got the ball they were explosive down the side and at times had USA scrambling. It wasn't until the 64th minute that Lara Parsley, playing only her second international, put one away and secured a win for her side.
The Black Sticks will play their final game against the USA at 3pm tomorrow, before the playoffs on Sunday. Korea will play Argentina in the earlier game at 1pm.
New Zealand 2 (Charlotte Harrison, Katie Glynn) Argentina 1 (Martina Cavallero). HT: 1-1
USA 2 (Torrie Albini, Lara Parsley) Korea 1 (Ok Ju Kim). HT: 1-1
- Fairfax Media
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