Auckland, New Zealand
- World number one Netherlands defeat hosts 4-0
- Korea score late to draw against USA
- Sell-out crowd witnesses opening day of action
Netherlands defeated hosts New Zealand whilst USA and Korea drew on the opening day of the Sentinel Homes Women's Hockey World League Final 2017 being held at Harbour Hockey Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand.
It was the second game of the day that offered the most goals as Netherlands showed why they are the number one ranked women's team in the world with a 4-0 win against New Zealand.
In front of a sell-out crowd, the Netherlands scored two goals inside the first quarter to quieten over 3,000 fans cheering on host’s New Zealand.
Kelly Jonker stunned New Zealand with a brilliant field goal reverse strike across the face on an acute angle to take the lead. Maartje Krekelaar made it two for the Dutch after she nipped the ball past New Zealand ‘keeper Sally Rutherford just before the end of the quarter.
“New Zealand were the better team in the first quarter. I was really happy that I scored when I did because my goal opened up the game.”
Kelly Jonker, Netherlands
Throughout, Netherlands were clinical in their play, regularly dispossessing the home side of the ball and making their chances count. Frederique Matla and then Kelly Jonker went on to double Netherlands lead, scoring in the 39th and 48th minute, all through field goals, to give the reigning World Cup champions the perfect start to this year’s Final.
Speaking after the game, two-goal star Kelly Jonker said: “New Zealand were the better team in the first quarter. I was really happy that I scored when I did because my goal opened up the game.” Her Coach Alyson Annan added: “The game started close. Stacey Michelsen is an extremely good player but in the end we played the game we wanted to play against New Zealand and we should be happy with the result.”
New Zealand Coach Mark Hager was however upset by his team’s opening account. He said: “We’re pretty disappointed. We played almost a quarter without a player - we had too many cards and we let in two soft goals.”
In the earlier match, USA scored from their first penalty corner. They applied early pressure on their opponents, with Korean goalkeeper Soo Ji Jang expertly blocking Ali Froede’s shot in the 20th minute. But seconds later she couldn’t stop 18 year-old Erin Matson’s skilful strike from a Lauren Moyer rebound.
Korea’s Mi Hyun Park expertly set up what should have been the equaliser in the 43rd minute but Seunga Park’s finish was wide. Korea then poured on the pressure, forced three penalty corners and with two minutes left on the clock they tied the match through a Yesol Cha rebound.
Afterwards, Korea striker Park Mi Hyun said: “It was a very challenging match and it was very unfortunate we missed the chances on the attack but with USA ranked higher than us we are very happy.”
Speaking about the game, USA captain Melissa Gonzalez said: “It is what it is - Korea were super threatening. We have to move on.“
Tomorrow marks the only four match day of the event with England starting their campaign against Germany at 12:00 and Argentina playing China at 14:00. Hosts New Zealand will then look to get back on track against Korea at 18:00 before both Hockey World League Semi-Final winners, USA and Netherlands, collide at 20:00.