The New Zealand women’s hockey team weren’t quite at their best, but still did enough to beat Japan 2-1 and retain their unbeaten record at the Tokyo Olympics.
The New Zealanders were expected to be too good for Japan, especially after their outstanding opening match win over Argentina, but were never able to establish consistent superiority.
After a scoreless first quarter, things warmed up when Japan opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a goal to Shihori Oikawa from a penalty corner.
New Zealand bounced back late in the quarter with two goals in three minutes, both from penalty corners. Olivia Merry slammed home the first one and the second went to Hope Ralph after alert following up.
That was the end of the scoring, but there were certainly some concerns for New Zealand, who had two players carded and had to defend desperately at times.
Japan earned six penalty corners to New Zealand’s three and manufactured seven shots at goal to New Zealand’s four.
One heartening aspect from New Zealand’s point of view was that skipper Stacey Michelsen and Sam Charlton took the field, after missing the Argentina game because of injury.
New Zealand’s next match is on Wednesday against Spain.Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games Hockey