The women’s Black Sticks beat Japan 1-0 in their fourth round match at the Hawke’s Bay Festival of Hockey in Hastings tonight.
The Black Sticks came into the match with a win and a draw from their opening three matches but more importantly, were looking for redemption after being beaten 2-1 by Japan in the opening match of the tournament.
The first half was played in a predictable style by both teams; the hosts pressing forward on attack while Japan fell back in defence and were quick to stifle any opportunities that were created.
It took until the 20th minute for the stalemate to be broken. The Black Sticks forced a penalty corner and Kirsten Pearce played the ball in for a shot by Brooke Neal. Japan keeper Megumi Kageyama made the save but the ball rebounded to Peace who flicked it into the net.
The second 30 minutes belonged to the Black Sticks. They pushed forward through the midfield and the strikers had plenty of shooting opportunities but to no avail.
Japan were again strong in defence and keeper Kageyama was a standout as she stifled wave upon wave of Black Sticks attacks.
Japan was unlucky not to steal an unlikely draw close to the final whistle, when a shot from a penalty corner hit the Black Sticks goal post and rebounded away.
At the end of four rounds Australia top the points table with eight, the Black Sticks have climbed to second with seven, the early leaders Japan are on six and the USA have one.
The top two teams after round robin play will compete for the Hawke’s Bay Cup on Sunday.