The Football Ferns’ search for a first ever win at the FIFA Women’s World Cup is still ongoing following a heartbreaking 1-0 loss at the hands of the Netherlands.
With just three draws to show from previous World Cup excursions, New Zealand has entered this tournament with serious intentions to break the winning drought.
But against a serious foe in a classy Netherlands side, this was probably not a match coach Tom Sermanni had identified as a must-win.
But the Ferns arguably had the better chances throughout the first 91 minutes but were agonisingly beaten by a 92nd-minute goal from Dutch striker Jill Roord at a sunny Stade Oceane in Le Harve.
It was cruel on the Oceania champions, who did not enjoy as much of the ball as their highly-fancied opponents but - led by commanding performances from goalkeeper Erin Nayler and the centre back pairing of Abby Erceg and Rebekah Stott, defended resolutely and could well have taken all three points with more fortune in front of goal.
Frustratingly, they were instead forced to kick-off their campaign with nothing but will take great confidence into their next game against Canada after pushing the European champions all the way.
"I was happy with the performance right throughout the game," coach Sermanni said.
"I thought we were courageous, battled hard and were unbelievably disciplined.
"We gave everything we could give and tactically the players did everything we asked of them. It’s a bit heartbreaking but that’s football."
The result could have been very different had Olivia Chance's outstanding left-footed strike snuck under the crossbar. Unfortunately for New Zealand, the ball bounced struck the post and bounced clear, denying the midfielder a sensational goal.
Rosie White, Sarah Gregorius and Ria Percival also failed to make the most of their chances, leaving the door open for the Netherlands.
Gregorious, in particular, will be disappointed not to have gotten on the score sheet when a pair of chances came her way in a matter of seconds.
The striker firstly not quite managing to reach a Chance cross and then regathering to connect with Betsy Hassett’s return delivery, but failing to make clean contact as Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal pulled off an athletic save.
"The players will be absolutely devastated but we're a resilient group and I'm pretty confident we'll bounce back," Sermanni said.
"We came up against one of the best teams in the world who have a chance to win this tournament and I think we went shoulder-to-shoulder with them.
"We can go away with a lot of confidence from this game."
The Football Ferns will now travel to Grenoble, where they will prepare to take on Canada in their second match of Group E on Sunday morning (NZT).