Rio de Janeiro: Australia’s hockey fraternity had been annoyed by media confusion about the respective names of the men’s and women’s teams, but ultimately the same fate befell both sides.
For the first time since 1984, neither the Hockeyroos nor the Kookaburras made the Olympic hockey semi-finals, an immense disappointment given their respective world rankings (third and first).
The women were sent packing on Monday morning, beaten 4-2 in their quarter-final by New Zealand. It came the day after the top-ranked Kookaburras were humiliated 4-0 by the Netherlands at the same stage of the event.
Both Australian teams were left dejected following their defeats.
Hockeyroos forward Georgie Parker summed up the collective sentiment when she took to Twitter shortly after the loss to their trans-Tasman rivals.
“This hurts more than I could have ever imagined,” she wrote.
The Hockeyroos were behind after seven minutes when Anita McLaren struck for the Black Sticks Women before Kelsey Smith deflected in from a penalty corner to give New Zealand a 2-0 lead at half-time.
Australia clawed back in the third quarter with a goal to Kathryn Slattery, which was quickly cancelled out by Gemma Flynn, before Charlotte Harrison hit the back of the net just before the end of the term.
Slattery scored a late consolation goal to give her a double in hot conditions at the Olympic Hockey Stadium in Deodoro.
A dejected Hockeyroos captain Madonna Blyth admitted the New Zealanders were too clinical for the Australians.
“They came out and scored their first penalty corner and that’s it, they got on a roll,” Blyth said.
“I thought there were patches where we were on top but when you don’t take your chances, it’s very difficult, especially when we started chasing the game.
“It’s very disappointing for our girls considering we played some really good hockey but when it comes down to these games, you’ve got to be at your best or you get punished.
“We chased around and we ran a lot but they were the one getting the reward for their effort, and I think that probably hurts more than anything when you are out there.”
– with AAP