7 Aug 2012

Women Black Sticks to play Netherlands

12:24 pm on 7 August 2012

New Zealand will play world number one Netherlands in the semi-finals of the women's hockey at the London Olympics.

The Black Sticks finished second in their group after drawing nil-all with Germany in their final pool match on Monday, while Argentina finished top following a nil-all draw with Australia.

Netherlands were top of the other group, which means Argentina will play Great Britain in the other semi-final.

The semi-finals are on Wednesday.

The Black Sticks lost to Netherlands 3-nil at the Champions Trophy in January.

The team is proud of their history-making performance against Germany, having never before reached the top four of an Olympic games.

Althought they have a poor record against Germany, they managed to keep the 2004 Olympic champions from scoring.

They reduced the German side to tears in the process, with it being their worst result since the 2000 Sydney Games.

Black Sticks assistant coach Greg Nicol says the side's big defensive effort paid off.

"When you're playing in a tight game like that, when the semifinals are on the line, if you can keep the opposition scoreless or limit them to very few opportunities then it gives (you) a chance.

"The whole group put in a great effort so credit to them for doing that."

He says the team is stoked with their performance, which he described as a fantastic achievement.

"They were pretty upbeat but they also know the job's only half done, so a couple of important days' rest and hopefully they can come up flying in the semis."

The New Zealanders were forced to scramble on defence for a large part of the game, with some brilliant play by goalkeeper Bianca Russell.

Russell says talent and attitude have got them into medal contention, having gone into the games as long shots.

The players, who had been unaware that a draw would take them through to the semi-finals, were elated after the game.

Captain Kayla Sharland says she did not know they had done enough and she was still trying to get a goal in the last minutes.

She says the team is very excited to now have a chance at a medal.

Coach Mark Hager says the Black Sticks made a huge effort, having to defend seven penalty corners.

The draw means the New Zealanders have finished second in their group, on 10 points.