The Kiwi women’s hockey team was unable to match the Netherlands in the World Hockey League final, falling 3 – 0 to the world’s best team.
We would place the loss squarely on the fact that Black Sticks Captain Stacey Michelson was photographed using a pink stick, but that would display a remarkable degree of ignorance, even for us.
The Dutch side took it easy for the first 20 minutes or so, before the Netherland’s Kelly Jonker scored the first goal of the gold medal match, after which, it seemed as though the only doubt would be the final tally.
The Dutch added another goal soon after, when Maria Verschoor fired a reverse-stick shot into the bottom-right corner for a two-goal cushion that afforded them the ability to just squeeze the Kiwis into smoothie material.
In the history of the competition between New Zealand and the tiny European nation with the name identity crisis, the Black Sticks have won just two times, 1953 and 1975.
Playing in front of a home crowd did not afford any threat of an upset, even though the picture of Sam Harrison did show her using a black stick.
Mark Hager, the coach of the Kiwis, supplied a rather objective assessment. I thought we played well for the first 10 minutes and then just fell away after that, and then in the second quarter we conceded those two goals, and I thought they (the Black Sticks) were a bit soft.”
“We’ve got to learn to match the intensity for the whole game, and not just in bits and pieces.”
It is as though the Universe wants to balance out the equation and set things right over the All Blacks’ rugby dominance.
The Dutch women are the All Blacks of field hockey. They won 27 times from 31 matches this year, were drawn three times and lost one to Belgium. They scored 103 goals and gave up only nine. In the just-concluded final tournament, they scored 18 goals and surrendered zero.
The Black Sticks will have to live with the Dutch thrashing until they line up for the Commonwealth Games in April.