After years of near-misses at major events, the New Zealand women’s hockey team finally went all the way today, winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal with an emphatic victory over Australia in the final.
Happily, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, the Minister of Sport, Grant Robertson, and thousands of fans from back home were there to see it happen.
The 4-1 score in the final, and on Australia’s home soil at that, will help erase some of the heartbreak of recent years. New Zealand has finished fourth at the last two Olympics, being deprived of medals they seemed likely to win, and could so easily have won the gold medal at the last two Commonwealth Games.
On the Gold Coast it has all gone right for New Zealand.
They beat Scotland 6-1 and Ghana 12-0, then drew 0-0 with Canada and 0-0 with Australia.
Into the semi-finals they finished 0-0 with England then overcame a bogey of recent years by winning the shootout.
Australia were outplayed in the final. The New Zealand team swept forward in wave after wave of attacks, forcing a succession of penalty corners.
After a scoreless first quarter, Shiloh Gloyn scored for New Zealand after 27 minutes. That’s how it remained until halftime. In the third quarter, Rose Keddell, in the 33rd minute, and Olivia Merry, in the 41st minute, converted penalty corners.
In the final period Australia pulled one back when Jodie Kenny scored from a penalty corner after 49 minutes. Surely New Zealand couldn’t be deprived now? Not at all – in fact Anita McLaren sewed up the victory with another converted penalty corner after 55 minutes.
The final score meant that for the tournament New Zealand were not only unbeaten, but had scored 22 goals and conceded just two. They were totally deserving Commonwealth Games gold medallists.
They not only scored the most goals in the tournament, but also the most field goals, 15, and the most goals from penalty corners, 7.
New Zealand coach Mark Hager was a delighted, and relieved, man afterwards as he savoured the New Zealand women's team's first Commonwealth Games gold medal. “To get a reward after a lot of heartache we've had over the last 10 years - two Olympic fourths, Commonwealth Games, World League finals - we haven't quite been able to get over the line.
“It’s just pleasing for the girls that we've finally done that.”
He said he thought his team began really well. "We moved the ball around really well and we created some opportunities early.
"We spoke about relaxing inside the circle - particularly Shiloh. I felt she rushed the first couple of shots, and then she went out there and got us 1-0 up, which was brilliant.
"Then I think the girls felt, 'Yep, we're confident. We can do this.'
"It's the monkey off the back."Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Shiloh Gloyn Olivia Merry Rose Keddell Anita McLaren