Birthday girl Kelsey Smith (left), who had goals in each half, celebrates her second goal with teammates Pippa Hayward and Rose Keddell in 2-1 victory over Spain.
The New Zealand men’s and women’s hockey teams got their Rio Olympics campaigns back on track with much-needed wins
Birthday girl Kelsey Smith celebrated turning 22 by grabbing both goals as the Black Sticks women beat Spain 2-1.
And Nick Wilson scored four goals as the Black Sticks men’s thumped hosts Brazil 9-0 to give their goal differential a boost for the tight tussle to make the quarter-finals.
Kayla Whitelock celebrates as Kelsey Smith’s first goal against Spain during women’s hockey pool play.
Smith snared a goal in each half to reward the side’s dominance over Spain, who scored their only goal of the tournament to date with the final shot of the game.
The Blacks Sticks, who suffered a surprise loss to Germany after beating South Korea in their opener, now have a two-win, one-loss record.
They failed to make the most of their chances against Spain, who remain winless at the tournament, as a mixture of goalkeeper Maris Lopez de Equilaz and profligacy in front of goal kept the game close.
New Zealand captain Kayla Whitelock takes a shot at goal during the Black Sticks’ 2-1 victory over Spain.
After Smith had deflected in Kayla Whitelock’s penalty corner strike to give the Black Sticks an early lead, the New Zealanders created a host of opportunities with Lopez de Equilaz making 10 saves.
At the other end Sally Rutherford was only called upon twice to make saves, but there were times that Spain failed to capitalise of goal-scoring chances.
Smith’s first-time shot that squeezed through Lopez de Equilaz’s legs with less than 10 minutes to go put the game beyond the reach of Spain, but they scored a route-one goal with time almost up as Carlota Petchame slid the ball past Rutherford.
The New Zealand women play the Netherlands next on Friday (Saturday NZT).
The Black Sticks men completely dominated Brazil to keep alive their chances of advancing beyond pool play.
The 9-0 win was New Zealand’s first of the competition and saw Brazil slump to their fourth consecutive loss, having now conceded 37 goals.
New Zealand scored just one goal in the opening quarter but were 5-0 up by halftime.
Their only frustration will have been not to score more goals with the differential factor a strong possibility to come into play when determining who goes through to the quarter-finals in a tight pool.
The Black Sticks could only manage one goal in the final quarter- a penalty corner from Nick Woods – despite a commitment to attack that included briefly substituting goalkeeper Devon Manchester for an extra outfielder.
The New Zealand men play pool leaders Belgium on Saturday morning (NZ time).