New Zealand: Vantage Black Sticks struggle against Belgium

Vantage Black Sticks struggle against Belgium

It was a tough day for the Vantage Black Sticks teams as they both fell to Belgium in front of a sold out crowd in Antwerp.

The Vantage Black Sticks Women were first up and suffered a heavy 7-0 defeat at the hands of Belgium, who clearly capitalised on their opponent’s fatigue after a tough game against Argentina the previous day.

Despite the final score, the Kiwis started the first quarter as the more dominant team, demonstrating a notable improvement from their performance against Argentina. 

The New Zealand side created several promising attacking opportunities, but were unable to convert these into tangible attempts on goal. 

Belgium, who had struggled to impose themselves, found the net twice. The first goal came from open play, while the second was off a well-executed penalty corner.

The second quarter saw a Kiwi fatigue set in as Belgium began to dictate the pace and style of the game. New Zealand showed flashes of promise with a couple of opportunities, but they largely appeared toothless on the attack. 

Their performance was marred by some sloppy turnovers which gifted Belgium several chances.

As the match progressed into the third quarter, Belgium firmly cemented their control over the game. It was one-way traffic with the Belgian side in command, adding another goal to their tally. 

The damage could have been more severe for the Black Sticks, if not for the heroic efforts of goalkeeper Brooke Roberts, who came up with several key saves.

In the fourth quarter, Belgium were on the fortunate end of an unlucky goal. A seemingly innocuous pass from the baseline, inside the circle, took a deflection off New Zealand defender Liz Thompson before nestling into the net through the legs of replacement keeper, Grace O’Hanlon.

Hoping to swing the momentum, New Zealand opted for an aggressive strategy, pulling their goalkeeper off to field an extra outfield player. 

However, the gamble did not pay off as Belgium capitalised on the lack of a last line of defence to score their fifth and sixth goals of the game.

Despite reinstating their goalkeeper, the Kiwis could not stem the tide of Belgian attacks. 

The seventh and final goal of the game was scored, leaving the final score at a comprehensive 7-0 victory for Belgium.

The Vantage Black Sticks Men gave an admirable performance against reigning Olympic champions Belgium, eventually falling 3-1 in a hard-fought match. Despite the defeat, the New Zealand team proved they could go toe-to-toe with some of the world’s best.

In the first quarter, the Kiwis were solid, showing marked improvement from their previous game against Argentina. The team was defensively sound, frustrating the Belgian forwards while also creating a number of opportunities in the attacking circle.

However, the second quarter saw the Belgians ramp up their attacking prowess. A relentless Belgian offence was rewarded halfway through the quarter when they won a penalty corner, which was converted for the first goal of the game.

In the third quarter, Belgium continued to dominate, exerting their control over the game. The Belgians won their second penalty corner of the match, from which they scored their second goal. 

Not to be outdone, New Zealand’s Kane Russell clawed one back for the Black Sticks from a well-executed penalty corner, resulting from a well-worked counterattack.

The fourth and final quarter saw Belgium extend their lead once again. After a deflection off Blair Tarrant’s stick inside the circle, a Belgian player found himself with an easy shot and made no mistake, bringing the score to 3-1.

Despite the final scoreline, the Vantage Black Sticks Men can take a lot of positives from this game. Their performance against the reigning Olympic champions was commendable, and they showed that they still have the ability to compete with the top-tier teams. 

They will undoubtedly be looking to continue improving and to capitalise on their opportunities in tomorrow’s match against Argentina at 4.10am NZT. The women have a rest day before taking on Argentina the following day.

  • June 19th, 2023 in
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