Commonwealth Games: Unwanted Aussie unlikely Black Sticks hero

Grace O'Hanlon
Grace O'Hanlon celebrates the Black Sticks victory over England. Photo credit: Photosport

If the Black Sticks create history at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, it'll be because they overcame history on Thursday night.

They finally won a penalty shoot-out, as reserve goalkeeper Grace O'Hanlon shut England down.

Dating back to a London 2012 loss to the Netherlands, the New Zealand had lost eight straight shootouts in major tournaments.

"I scouted really well," said O'Hanlon afterwards. "You might have seen me with my homework out there.

"To their credit, I've seen them do a lot of [penalty one-on-ones], so I've done a lot of practice."

O'Hanlon was overlooked by the Australian Hockeyroos, but qualified for New Zealand through her Kiwi dad.

"We're lucky she chose us," said former Black Sticks striker Katie Glynn. "I think I saw her the first day she came to New Zealand, having a hit, and from then to now, her improvement has been out of sight.

"I think everyone watching her last night was in awe."

Glynn believes the win over England could be a turning point for her old team.

"That would have given them a big boost," she said. "I think the way they played in the game was really good, but getting over that mental barrier will only add to their belief and their confidence."

The Black Sticks women have never won Commonwealth Games gold. That's the goal and standing in their way are defending champions Australia.

The two sides shared in a goalless draw during pool play.

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