Black Sticks women scrape through to quarterfinals

The Women's Blacks Sticks medal hopes remain in tact despite falling to China 3-2 today, narrowly hanging onto a quarter-finals berth in Tokyo.

Na Wang of Team China chases Ella Gunson of Team New Zealand during the Women's Preliminary Pool B match between China and New Zealand on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Oi Hockey Stadium on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Source: Getty

The loss comes as somewhat of an upset with the Black Sticks sitting four places above China in the world rankings at number-six. 

China were the dominant force throughout the contest, firing off 22 shots on goal while New Zealand was only able to manage 10. 

Despite the disparity in attacking opportunities, the Black Sticks managed to stay competitive throughout, drawing first blood through Ella Gunson claiming a short-lived lead.

China's Liu Meng fired back quickly however, to even the scores at the end of the first half.

The second half saw China take the lead through a goal from Chen Yang, continuing the attacking onslaught at the Kiwi goal.

Rose Keddell managed to find the back of the goal in the 45th minute to level the scores once again, but China's consistency on attack proved to be New Zealand's undoing with Liang Meyu reclaiming the lead ten minutes later.

Today's loss means the Black Sticks have lost their last three outings, falling to Spain and Australia previously. 

It was their strong start in the pool play however, with a win over Japan and an upset over Argentina and a higher goal difference, which sees them qualify ahead of China.

Their progression to the elimination rounds comes with a caveat. 

Due to their position as the fourth qualifier from pool B, they will now have to face to the top ranked side from pool A which features hockey powerhouses, Germany and the Netherlands.