Photo Credits : Vantage Black Sticks

The Vantage Black Sticks Women have gone down in a close battle with the Belgium Women’s team. Despite a number of strong scoring opportunities, the Vantage Black Sticks were unable to find the back of the net and this left Belgium with a last-minute goal to Captain Jill Boon as the victors on the night.

The Vantage Black Sticks Women took on the Belgium Women on a beautiful Friday evening in Auckland. Having gone down 1-0 to the Netherlands on Sunday in a tough battle with the World Champions. Carrying a vastly unchanged side the Vantage Black Sticks would be looking to take their opportunities on both ends of the field.

Both sides looked to play confidently from the start looking to switch the point of attack and utilise their halves to put pressure on the defence. Belgium looked strong in the opening 10 minutes putting the Vantage Black Sticks under an immense amount of pressure.

Liz Thompson and Sally Rutherford stood up tall and the Black Sticks in the game. As the quarter wore on the Black Sticks found their footing and started to test the Belgium defence with some long through balls.

With one minute to go Belgium had the best opportunity to score of the quarter when they went agonisingly close only to be denied by the post. The score remained tied 0-0 as we went into the second quarter.

The second quarter continued much the same as the first with both teams looking to construct opportunities. Both sides looked solid on defence and continued to shut down the chances the opposition was creating.

The Vantage Black Sticks had the first penalty corner of the match when they attacked from deep in their half and found an open Olivia Shannon who earnt the penalty corner. Belgium’s defence shut down the threat to keep the Black Sticks scoreless. This was the way the score remained as we set up what promised to be an exciting second half.

The Black Sticks started the second half looking incredibly strong earning a couple of penalty corners and having some great scoring opportunities. The Belgium defence was resolute and continued to shut down the Black Sticks attack.

Despite these opportunities we were tied at 0-0 at the end of 3 quarters. As the final quarter begun the Black Sticks crowd was cheering for the Black Sticks to break this goalless drought.

Belgium had the first real scoring opportunity of the fourth quarter when they managed to find the foot of the Vantage Black Sticks in the circle earning a penalty corner. The Black Sticks however pulled off a goal line save keeping us locked.

The Black Sticks set up a great play down the right-hand side of the field. Unfortunately, the sweep home from Kirsten Pearce went sailing over the crossbar. With three minutes to go Belgium was awarded a penalty stroke in what looked like it could seal the win for Belgium.

Grace O’hanlon came up massive in goal for the Vantage Black Sticks and saved the stroke to keep the Black Sticks in with a shot at winning the match. With 2 minutes to go Belgium found an open Jill Boon who scored the winner for Belgium.

The Black Sticks will now turn their attention to Great Britain in Christchurch next week in which shapes up to be an intriguing match against the now Mark Hager led Great Britain team.

Vantage Black Sticks : 0

Belgium : 1 (Jill Boon 59’)

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