The curse of penalty corner shootouts has continued for the New Zealand women’s hockey team.
They were cruelly beaten by England in their semi-final penalty shootout and now must play for the bronze medal.
A look at recent Commonwealth Games women’s tournaments makes for grisly reading for New Zealand:
2006: lost to England in the bronze medal match on penalties.
2010: lost to Australia in the final on penalties.
2014: lost to England in the semi-final on penalties.
2018: beat England in semi-final on penalties (and then beat Australia 4-1 in the final).
2022: lost to England in the semi-final on penalties.
That’s one win in a penalty shootout in the 16 years.
In Birmingham, New Zealand and England ground their way to 0-0 at fulltime and the almost inevitable penalty shootout, which England won 2-0.
New Zealand went into the match as defending Games champions, but only four of the gold medal-winning team from the Gold Coast were on the field in Birmingham.
New Zealand’s performance, against the Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists, and in front of a massively noisy pro-England crowd, was outstanding.
In the early stages New Zealand made most of the running, including earning no less than seven penalty corners in the first five minutes.
But in the end, England had 13 shots at goal to New Zealand’s eight.
Both goalies were brilliant. For New Zealand, Grace O’Hanlon made three saves, while for England Maddy Hinch had to make six.
New Zealand coach Darren Smith was full of praise for his team.
“We played good hockey and created a lot of chances,” he said. “It was disappointing not to come through the shootout, but that’s a lottery.”
Smith said it was frustrating that New Zealand were unable to capitalise on any of the opportunities they created, but he fully commended the team’s defensive effort.
“The defence and the tackling was pretty fantastic. You had to admire the work of both goalies.”
New Zealand co-captain Megan Hull said she was extremely proud of a performance that was “nothing short of incredible”.
“There are a few shattered hearts for sure, but boy am I proud of what was achieved. We put everything into it and it just didn’t go our way.”
Pressed for areas that might be improved on, Hull mentioned that perhaps the team could be more clinical around penalty corners and in the circle, but she said overall the team defended like Trojans and deserved nothing but praise.Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games