Black Sticks captain and FIH Player of the Year nominee Kayla Sharland scored the only goal of the game as New Zealand claimed 5th place at the Argentina Hockey World League Final with a 1-0 win over China.
Sharland, who before the match was presented with a gift from coach Mark Hager in recognition of her 200th senior international appearance, cracked home a stunning low backhand strike from the top of the circle to seal the win. It was a very special moment for the inspirational captain ensuring that her team ended their year on a winning note.
Searing temperatures in San Miguel de Tucuman brought the FIH warm weather protocol into action, meaning that the teams had a two minute drinks break midway through each half.
The Black Sticks were certainly the better team over the 70 minutes, but found it tough to get the breakthrough against the hard working and well organised Chinese defence.
Sharland came close to opening the scoring with efforts either side of half time, but her tomahawk strikes both went wide of the target before Black Sticks keeper Sally Rutherford made a fine glove save from a Wang Mengyu's penalty corner.
Sharland eventually got on the score-sheet in the 56th minute, with her brilliant strike giving New Zealand a hard earned win against a young China team that looks to have bags of potential.
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