OLIVIA MERRY - LEGEND!
OLIVIA MERRY - LEGEND!
February 03, 2020
The Vantage Black Sticks Women have rebounded in the best possible fashion with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Belgium. Olivia Merry capped a great weekend with a massive four-goal effort that has now taken her to being the all-time leading goal scorer for the Vantage Black Sticks Women.
Belgium stunned the Vantage Black Sticks Women in the opening match of the FIH Hockey Pro League. They were looking to continue their winning streak going when the two sides met for the second time.
New Zealand came out of the blocks firing and went close on several occasions early in the match, unfortunately for the Kiwis they couldn’t get the needed touch to put themselves in front in the contest.
The Kiwis continued to apply significant pressure on the Belgians and were rewarded with three penalty corners in the first quarter to the Belgians 0.
Despite the weight of possession in favour of the Black Sticks, it was the away side that got on the scoreboard first when they pressed the New Zealand team aggressively, this forced the New Zealand team into a turnover deep in their half that found a deflection past Brooke Roberts.
For the second time in two days, it was the Belgians who played from in front in the match.
As the first half wound down the Belgium side started to play with attacking flair, they managed to string several passes together as they went close to extending their lead.
Early in the third quarter, the Belgium team couldn’t clear their defensive zone. Black Sticks star striker Olivia Merry took advantage of this to deflect in her first goal of the match and tie the contest up.
Moments later the Vantage Black Sticks earned themselves a penalty corner. This time the Kiwis managed to get a clear shot off as Olivia Merry would score her second with a shot that went straight into the corner of the goal.
New Zealand was able to increase their lead early in the fourth quarter when Olivia Merry tied the New Zealand record of 105 goals with her third goal of the match.
The win was sealed in the final minutes of the game when Merry had her fourth goal of the contest after a great pass from Gemma McCaw found its way through several defenders and took a deflection off Olivia Merry. Her fourth goal took Merry past Anita McLaren for the all-time record of 106 goals for the Vantage Black Sticks.
Vantage Black Sticks Women: 4 (Olivia Merry 31, 35, 51, 55 min)
Belgium: 1 (Abi Raye)
Saturday 1 February
Vantage Black Sticks Women: 1 (Gemma McCaw 17 min)
Belgium: 2 (Ambre Ballenghien 2 min, Anne-Sophie Weyns 51 min)
The Belgium Men have continued their fantastic start to 2020 with another clinical 3-1 win over the Black Sticks Men yesterday. The Kiwis produced a much more consistent effort across the turf and will be looking for further improvements next week when they come across Great Britain.
Vantage Black Sticks Men's assistant coach Glenn Turner commented "We were happier with the performance tonight; we need to find more consistency throughout the match. When we have opportunities, we must make the most of them".
After a horror start in their first match, the Vantage Black Sticks Men came out in the second match looking more composed on both ends of the turf. The first quarter was an arm wrestle where neither side was able to construct any significant goalscoring opportunities.
Entering the second quarter, the Kiwis started on a tear as they stormed into the Belgium circle and earned themselves a penalty corner. Despite several back to back penalty corners, they were unable to get any clear shots off due to the outstanding penalty corner running of the Belgium defence.
Belgium absorbed the early pressure and then started to play with freedom as the quarter wore on. In the 4th minute of the second quarter, Alexander Hendrickx powered his flick past New Zealand goalkeeper Richard Joyce to put the Belgians in the lead.
Moments later Belgium had their second goal of the match when Sebastien Dockier spun away from a couple of New Zealand defenders and powered his shot into the side of the New Zealand goal.
The Vantage Black Sticks Men managed to find their footing in the third quarter as they managed to pull a goal back through a diving deflection to Black Sticks Captain Blair Tarrant.
Looking to find an early goal in the fourth quarter the Kiwis went immediately went onto the ascendency as they came close to tying the contest up only to be denied by the Belgium defence.
Belgium with eight minutes to go in the match, managed to extend their lead when the Black Sticks were unable to clear their defensive circle. Tanguy Cosyns grabbed the rebound and their with precision shot it into the New Zealand goal.
Belgium then held their nerve to see off a strong challenge from New Zealand. The Black Sticks will now turn their attention to their next contest when they take on Great Britain next Saturday at the National Hockey Centre.
Vantage Black Sticks Men: 1 (Blair Tarrant 34 min)
Belgium: 3 (Alexander Hendrickx 19 min, Sebastien Dockier 24 min, Tanguy Cosyns 53 min)
Saturday 1 February
Vantage Black Sticks Men: 2 (George Muir 17, 41 min)
Belgium: 6 (Felix Denayer 3, 5 min, Tom Boon 7, 52 min, Sebastian Dockier 19 min, Nicolas de Kerpel 41 min)