New Zealand hockey book their place at the 2020 Olympics with draw against Australia
The New Zealand hockey team are heading to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after drawing 1-1 with Australia in the Oceania Cup. The Black Sticks came fourth in the 2016 Rio games.
The New Zealanders clinched their place five minutes before the end of their match. The draw meant that the sixth ranked side booked their Olympic place on a goal difference of 6-5.
Mariah Williams scored the opening goal for Australia who needed a win to qualify.
Olivia Merry scored the equaliser off a penalty corner. The draw means that Australia will be entered into International Federation Olympic Qualifiers which will be played in October and November to see if they can win a spot at the 2020 games.
New Zealand's head coach Graham Shaw said: "The game was ugly at times but the team dug in and was able to stick together to get a fantastic result."
Goalscorer Merry said "everything seemed to work" at Rockhampton where the game was staged.
The forward continued: "We probably haven't felt this way as a team since the Commonwealth Games.
"It has been a big year emotionally and mentally as well as physically so really taking the time to get team culture and all of that right is hugely important for us and hugely important moving forward I think."
Merry then spoke about her coach, Shaw, who is a former Irish international player.
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"He definitely brings a different feel to hockey," she said.
"Obviously having an Australian coach for six years of my hockey career and then having a European coach they play completely different hockey styles.
"I think it's fantastic having the two different styles of hockey coaching and I think Graham has definitely opened my eyes to a whole another level of hockey and how the game can be played."