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Already guaranteed a place in the quarterfinals and down two goals to Spain, the Black Sticks men pulled their goalie.
Using Shea McAleese as a ‘kicking back’ in place of goalkeeper Devon Manchester for more than 15 minutes, New Zealand scored three goals from penalty corners to take a lead, only to see the tactic come back to bite them in a 4-3 loss to close out pool play at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinal in Johannesburg on Monday (Tuesday NZ Time).
Looking to finish as high in Pool A as possible – behind unbeaten Australia – the Black Sticks would have ended second if their 3-2 lead early in the fourth quarter held up, however they dropped to third after allowing two goals in the final three minutes. After finishing tied with France on four points with 1-1-2 records, New Zealand took third having scored 10 goals to nine.
A quarterfinal match against Belgium most likely awaits on Wednesday (Thursday NZT).
After goals from Josep Romeu in the 23rd minute and Enrique Gonzalez in the 35th minute, New Zealand brought on the extra field player and it paid off.
McAleese deflected in New Zealand’s first goal from a Nic Woods penalty corner shot in the 43rd minute. Spain’s Sergi Enrique was yellow-carded in the 54th minute and from the ensuing penalty corner, Woods was credited with the game-tying goal after his shot took a deflection off the stick of a Spanish defender.
A minute later, Kane Russell put the Black Sticks ahead with a well-executed penalty…