The Hockeyroos were gallant in defeat going down to New
Zealand 1-0 in their Olympic opener in London tonight.
Representing the Australian women’s team in the match against
New Zealand were AIS-WAIS scholarship holders; Fiona Boyce, Kobie McGurk, Jayde
Taylor, Ashleigh Nelson and Hope Munro.
Australia was on the back foot from the outset when the
Blacksticks converted their first penalty corner through Cathryn Finlayson, who
sent home a rebound just two minutes in.
Right from the get-go former Australian Kookaburra and
Blacksticks coach Mark Hager’s influence was evident with the Kiwis executing a
very attacking style of play.
New Zealand had a far higher work rate in the first half and
pressured Australia all over the park, causing basic errors.
The Blacksticks dominated the opening half and aside from
Victorian Georgia Nanscawen who looked the only danger in attack, Australia
Megan Rivers had some strong forward forays through midfield
and when her shot on goal hit the post, it seemed nothing was going the
When AIS-WAIS athlete Ashleigh Nelson eventually forced
Australia’s first penalty corner, drag flick specialist Jodie Schulz was off
the ground and Anna Flanagan’s shot was saved by the New Zealand keeper.
The Blacksticks press continued to deny Australia any space
to work the ball out of defence or transfer and as a result they went to the
break 1-0 up.
In the second, Australia did lift the tempo but New Zealand
again had plenty of chances, with Australian keeper Toni Cronk having a
blinder, saving at least three certain goals.
Australia was unlucky when a video referral was rejected,
denying the Hockeyroos a much needed opportunity to give Schulz a crack at the
The Australian crowd roared when the replay clearly showed
NSW striker Emily Smith was tripped while taking a shot on goal.
Then to add insult to injury, the New Zealand goal keeper
knocked smith to the ground and it was the youngster who was sent off for
On the counter attack New Zealand would have scored again if
there had not been some brilliant tackles by Schulz and Teneal Attard.
Overall Australia was dispossessed to often in midfield and
too many turnovers allowed New Zealand to beat the Hockeyroos for the first
time ever at the Olympic Games.
Australian Head Coach Adam Commens removed his goalie with
two minutes to go, to add an 11th field player to the mix, which almost paid
off when a shot from Casey Eastham was almost deflected in.
It wasn’t to be however and the Hockeyroos now have a
difficult path to make the finals, having to take on Germany, ranked three in
the world on Tuesday.