Hockey women finish fourth

The New Zealand womens hockey team missed out on an Olympic medal in difficult circumstances at Riverbank Arena today. The Black Sticks had a heartbreaking penalty shootout loss to favourites The Netherlands on Wednesday in a match that would have put them into the gold medal game. Instead they had to confront a Great Britain team buoyed by excellent crowd support to try to salvage a bronze medal, and the task proved too much. Great Britain deservedly won 3-1, all the goals coming in the second half. In the opening moment of the second spell, New Zealands Katie Glynn flicked a ball on to the upright after a bit of scrambling in the British circle. The hairline miss was to be the closest the Black Sticks came to taking control of the game. After that the British side dominated, and they were especially potent at penalty corner time. Alex Danson, Crista Cullen and Sarah Thomas all scored from penalty corners within 18 minutes to seal the match. For New Zealand, Stacey Michelson got one back, also from a penalty corner, just before the end, but it was too little too late. The statistics point to a close match New Zealand had eight shots at goal to Britains eight but the home side was much more clinical. Michelson said afterwards that one of the Black Sticks strengths during the tournament had been their good starts. Weve been starting really well, but today was the opposite, she said. She pinpointed conceding too many penalty corners as one of the teams biggest problems today. We just didnt put out a good enough performance. We definitely lacked a bit of energy, she said. Team-mate Anita Punt said that while the narrow loss to The Netherlands had hurt, especially in such a crucial game, she didnt feel that was the reason for todays sub-par performance. You have to get up for the next game, she said. Were gutted we couldnt make New Zealand proud, but we did our best. We felt the warm-up was good, but we just didnt perform today.
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