The New Zealand U21 Women’s side began their Australia Tri-Series in the best possible way with a comprehensive 3-1 win over the Australian side. Olivia Shannon put the Kiwis in front early on in the match with a 3rd-minute goal, Hope Ralph then extended the lead with two late goals to ensure the New Zealand side would start the series off in the best possible way.
The New Zealand side started the match looking confident and stringing together some great passes, they were rewarded in the 3rd minute of the game when Olivia Shannon found some space in the circle and rolled around the Australia defender before putting a shot wide of the Australian goalkeeper. New Zealand came close to doubling the lead through a high Kaitlin Cotter drag flick, however, the opposition goalkeeper was able to get across to the shot and deny the Kiwis.
Australia after being stunned in the first half came out firing in the second and forced the New Zealand side to absorb some significant pressure, the Kiwis kept fighting and managed to construct some great attack as the second half wore on. Hope Ralph found herself on the end of a rebound off a New Zealand penalty corner which she slotted home to take the lead to 2-0. The second goal from the Kiwis seemed to jolt the Australian team to life as they began to get shot after shot on the New Zealand team, eventually, the pressure resulted in Australia finding their first goal of the match off a penalty corner deflection. The New Zealand side stayed composed as Hope Ralph would go on to score her second of the match off a penalty corner deflection which sailed into the back of the net.
The New Zealand goalkeepers Kelly Carline and Saassha Marsters were outstanding in the first match as they were called on to keep a strong finishing Australia side at bay.
New Zealand Coach Katie Glynn commented “We were really happy with the first up effort from the girls. We now have a short turn around and a lot more we can put out on the pitch for the rest of the series. The ream will now review, recover and look to progress in their next match against India”.
New Zealand will return to the turf for their second match today as they take on India.
New Zealand 3 (Olivia Shannon 3 min, Hope Ralph 47, 52 min)
Australia 1 (Aisling Utri 50 min)