Free Man Hockey: Best Black Sticks Women Squad

 Top left life.

Top left life.

After wrapping up the series with two games to play, Aotearoa continued their dominance over India by both games in Hamilton earlier this week. Game four saw the Black Sticks get up 3-0, then they finished the series with a 6-2 win. Here's some highlights from the last two games...

On the back of that series against India, coach Mark Hager named his squad for the World League Semi Final in Belgium. This tournament gets underway later in June and signals the start of a super exciting period for kiwi hockey as the women will be taking on the world in Brussels, then early in July the men are in South Africa for the men's equivalent. 

Belgium's Semi Final doesn't quite hold the same weight for Aotearoa as it does for other countries with the Black Sticks gaining automatic qualification for the World League Final as hosts. Obviously they'll still be keen to perform strongly and after showing off Aotearoa's crazy hockey depth, Hager has narrowed his squad down to the top-tier. 

This squad features a youngish core that will take the Black Sticks forward, through to the next Olympics and possibly a nice run of success as they are all experienced at this level. That core consists of Stacey Michelsen, Sam Charlton, Rose Keddell, Brooke Neal, Ella Gunson, Olivia Merry, Pippa Hayward, Kirsten Pearce and Liz Thompson. Even the likes of Sam Harrison and Natasha Fitzsimons who weren't in Rio, have plenty of experience and are genuine international calibre players. 

The only player with less than 20 international caps is goal-keeper Grace O'Hanlon, who will likely play behind veteran Sally Rutherford. This differs greatly from recent Black Sticks squad that have seen the wider pool of players used and it appears as though O'Hanlon, defender Erin Goad and striker Amy Robinson were the benefactors of those recent series. 

Hockey funky-funky...