The New Zealand Women will play for a gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games after securing a thrilling 2-1 shoot-out victory over England in the semi finals.
It was an absorbing game which saw both sides produce 60 minutes of top shelf hockey after which nothing separated them at fulltime.
With goalkeeper Sally Rutherford playing an impressive match during regulation time, head coach Mark Hager made the decision to put a fresh Grace O’Hanlon in for the deciding shoot-out.
During the shoot-out O’Hanlon made four absolutely remarkable saves with Hannah Martin the only English player able to beat her.
Samantha Harrison scored to put things on level terms going into the final shot, which captain Stacey Michelsen calmly buried into the back of the net.
New Zealand now move on to the gold medal game at 2:45pm (NZ time) on Saturday where they face a rematch against trans-Tasman rivals Australia, live on TVNZ Duke.
Losers of the semi finals England and India will play-off for bronze earlier in the day.
Head coach Mark Hager wasn’t able to watch the final stages of the shoot-out which he described as ‘heart pumping’.
“I had to turn away and I couldn’t watch the final shot, I was just too tense,” he said.
“Grace was brilliant, she kept us alive and ignited our players in the shoot-out. I also want to praise Sally who was outstanding and really kept us in the game under huge pressure.
“For Stacey to come in and win the game I thought was very fitting. I’m just so pleased for her and very proud of how she always puts her hand up with the mindset ‘I’m going to get this done’.
O’Hanlon said her homework paid off during the shoot-out, where it seemed she knew exactly where each England player was looking to go.
“I did my homework and scouting very thoroughly but I also just went out there wanting to play my game and rely on my instincts.
“Shoot-outs are a specific skill of mine, I’m a big unit and pretty quick. Huge credit to Sally too as she’s yet to concede a goal and is an amazing keeper, so I was happy to play my role.”
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New Zealand won shoot-out 2-1