The successful Black Sticks Women’s side that won the Oceania Cup last weekend has been retained to contest the BDO Champions Challenge in October. Promising young school girl striker Sam Harrison, (18), has also been added to the squad to allow Coach Mark Hager to continue her development at international level.
Sam, the younger sister of Charlotte Harrison, debuted for the Black Sticks against China and Argentina in July.
The extended squad of 19 will head to the Champions Challenge on October 1 with the goal of finishing in the top four of the eight-team tournament.
The tournament will be played in Cape Town between 11 and 18 October. Participants are Azerbaijan (world ranking 13), Chile (17), Italy (16), Japan (6th), Korea (9th), New Zealand 11th), Spain (7th ) and South Africa (12th).
The winner of the tournament gains entry to the next Samsung Champions Trophy contested by the top six teams in the world.
Black Sticks Coach Mark Hager sees the tournament as good opportunity to continue growing the confidence of his still relatively inexperienced squad.
“We have a lot of work to do to compete with the top six teams in the world but we are heading in the right direction,” he says.
The side showed growing maturity and grit to come back from a two goal deficit against fourth ranked Australia in Invercargill last Sunday, to eventually prevail on strokes.
Wellington-based keeper Beth Jurgeleit was outstanding during the final. Australia were awarded 11 penalty corners in normal time and four in extra time, and only converted one.
Three of the teams, Japan, Spain and Korea are ranked above New Zealand. The Black Sticks international ranking of 11, unfortunately did not change after the recent upset win over Australia in Invercargill.
The team will play three build-up matches against South Africa in Stellenbosch, near Capetown, before the tournament.
Before that the squad will be involved in playing for their regional National Hockey League teams. The NHL starts next weekend with the first round being played in Whangarei, Palmerston North, Hamilton and Dunedin. The remaining six rounds and the final will be played in Christchurch from Saturday 19 September to Sunday 27 September.
Team New Zealand: Kayla Sharland, Emily Naylor, Krystal Forgesson, Kate Saunders, Katie Glynn, Stacey Carr, Ella Gunson, Beth Jurgeleit, Clarissa Eshuis, Lucy Talbot, Stacey Brannigan, Sam Harrison, Gemma Flynn, Anna Thorpe, Kate Mahon, Charlotte Harrison, Bianca Russell, Stacey Michelsen, Anita Punt.
Source: Hockey New Zealand