Black Sticks women reset goals
Wed, 08 Aug 2012 3:11a.m.
By Robert Lowe
With everything to play for, the Black Sticks women will take a nothing-to-lose approach into a tough Olympic hockey semi-final.
The New Zealanders will be definite outsiders to book a place in the gold medal match when they face defending champions and world No.1 the Netherlands in London on Wednesday.
While goal difference was needed to separate the top three nations in the Black Sticks' pool, the Dutch won theirs by six points after compiling a perfect 5-0 win-loss record.
Should they fail to upset past the Dutch, the New Zealanders will get a shot at bronze against either Argentina or Great Britain.
Despite the Black Sticks' middle-of-the-table ranking of No.6 heading into the London Games, midfielder Sam Harrison says a medal was seen as a realistic ambition within the camp.
Now with that target so close at hand, it's a case of wiping the slate clean and beginning afresh.
"I suppose we just have to reset our goals and start again," she said.
"We've got nothing to lose now. We're above our ranking and we really want to get this medal."
At 20, Harrison is representative of the youth in the present Black Sticks squad, which has a median age of just 23.
New Zealand last faced the Netherlands in February, losing 3-0 in the Champions Trophy in Argentina.
But seven months earlier, in the previous edition of the same tournament, they secured a 0-0 draw against the Dutch on their opponents' home soil on the way to claiming a surprise bronze medal.
Harrison said the feat of finishing on the podium in Amsterdam did provide a measure of confidence heading into the medal rounds in London.
"But every tournament is new and and we've had to work really hard to get where we are, so it doesn't mean it stops now," she said.
"Getting to the semis is a huge achievement for us but that's not enough. We're not happy with that."
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