IMAGE | Michael Willson
The Hockeyroos will play for a fourth consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal when they face Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre on Saturday.
The Hockeyroos have barely faced a battle in the group stage – their only bump in the road being against the fourth-ranked Kiwis when they drew 0-0 in a physical encounter.
In their semi-final against the highly fancied Indians, the fifth-ranked Roos squander numerous opportunities, clinching just a narrow 1-0 victory to advance to the gold medal match.
In the first half against India, Captain Emily Smith and Games’ debutants Savannah Fitzpatrick and Grace Stewart showed skill and flare in attack, but were unable to break through the resolute Indian defence.
The breakthrough, however, came in the eighth minute of the third quarter, when Stewart found the back of the net with an exceptional deflection, to score her second goal of the tournament. Stewart said after the game;
“It was very exciting, still don’t believe that it went it! Those ones you often miss, so it was very nice to hit it sweetly off the stick and it was a relief to put it in the back of the net.”
The Australians can however boast a perfect defensive record at the GC2018 Games, having yet to concede a goal throughout the tournament, largely thanks to the heroics of in-form goalkeeper Rachael Lynch.
“Personally I’ve felt really calm at this tournament, I don’t know if that’s the experience of being here before, but I take a lot of confidence out of the girls and the way that they play.”
“The girls have had some really solid performances, but definitely the defence, I feel like my job’s made easy when I’ve got a group around me that are working so hard and are so brave.”
“My personal focus is to stop the ball going in the goal and if I can do my job, hopefully the girls up the front will take care of the rest.”
Speaking ahead of the decider, Lynch added;
“There’s only one game that matters, and that’s tomorrow – we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, but we’re here to win gold and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
“We know them really well, we play them a lot – and I think we match up really well against the Kiwis, the style that we play, and that they play is similar and I’d say the Kiwi game was one of the best that we’ve played here.”
“It’s just about doing what we need to do – you do your research so you know what to expect, but at the end of the day if we execute our game plan, we believe that that’s the way we can win.”
“There’s 27 of us training back in Perth – we 100% believe that our success here is because of the whole group.”
Expect fireworks at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre when the Hockeyroos and the New Zealand Black Sticks play for Trans-Tasman bragging rights and Commonwealth gold at 12.45pm AEST on Saturday.