Black Sticks fortunate to beat USA, says Hager

ANTHONY MOMOEMAUSU
Last updated 05:00 19/04/2013
Anita Punt
Photosport
DANGEROUS BREAK: Anita Punt applies a burst of speed to get around USA defender Maxine Fluharty during the Black Sticks' 1-0 win.

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The women's Black Sticks have notched their first win in the Four Nations tournament with a hard-earned 1-0 victory over the United States at the Gallagher Hockey Centre in Hamilton.

After a 2-2 draw in their opening match against Argentina, the hosts were made to work hard against a courageous American team last night.

It was a match the Black Sticks looked to be in firm control of throughout and a first half goal to striker Michalea Curtis - playing in only her seventh international - proved vital in the overall result.

Both sides were solid defensively in the opening exchanges and struggled to get into the scoring circle.

The best attacking opportunity came when Black Sticks midfielder Anita Punt showed her pace and skill to get behind the defence but couldn't link up with a team-mate in the circle.

Later in the half the Kiwi side were on the board after turning defence into attack with Katie Glynn grabbing possession before firing a shot infield for Curtis to score.

American goal-keeper Alesha Widdall did her best to keep her side in the game when she made a crucial save from a penalty corner.

Glynn was unfortunate not to double the hosts' lead right on halftime after Punt had done superbly evading defenders to create the scoring chance.

Striker Charlotte Harrison was in the action early in the second half on the back of a break where she raced down field but her attempt on goal went wide.

The Black Sticks looked the more dangerous of the two sides with the Kiwis making all the play as they went in search of a second goal.

Widdall came to the rescue again for the visitors, denying another shot on goal by the Black Sticks.

In the end the Americans eventually held out the Kiwis in a scoreless second half but the Kiwis could be pleased with the win.

Black Sticks head coach Mark Hager was honest in his assessment, saying his side were fortunate to come away with a 1-0 victory.

Hager believed his side had created scoring opportunities but would need to reassess areas of their game going into the weekend matches.

Earlier, Argentina proved too strong for Korea winning 4-2 in a match that featured a number of penalty corners.

Goals either side of halftime by the Argentine pair of Carla Rebecchi and Noel Barrionuevo were enough to see the South American side home against a spirited Korean squad.

The four teams will have a rest day tomorrow as they head to Tauranga where each side will play another match, with the final on Sunday.

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New Zealand 1 (Michalea Curtis) USA 0. HT: 1-0.

Argentina 4 (Noel Barrionuevo 2, Carla Rebecchi 2) Korea 2 (Young Ran Kim 2). HT: 2-0

- Waikato Times

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