By Jake Beleski
Felicity Reidy could not have asked for a more eventful start to her international hockey career.
The former Wairarapa College student was left disappointed and frustrated after a 6-0 loss to the Australian Hockeyroos in the first game of the three-match Trans-Tasman Trophy, before a remarkable turnaround saw the Black Sticks women claim the series 2-1.
It was an experience that would stay with her for a long time.
“The whole environment was so cool to be in,” she said.
“All the girls were so lovely.
“Being in the black shirt and singing the national anthem was definitely a highlight and an amazing experience.”
A limited build-up to the series had left the young squad scrambling to get to know each other and build combinations, which may explain why the first match went so poorly.
“I think because we hadn’t had any games together, we had to learn what they [Australia] were bringing to us and raise our standards.
“It’s not very nice getting beaten 6-0 so we had a bit of fire in our bellies for the rest of the series.”
Their change in fortunes started in Saturday’s second test, which the Black Sticks won 2-0, before they claimed the series with a thrilling 3-2 win in Sunday’s decider.
They knew they would have to fight for everything in the final match, she said.
“We knew they would come back at us in the Sunday game so we had to pick it up again.
“Playing against Australian players of that calibre was amazing — the whole experience was really cool.”
Reidy acknowledged the difference in skills required for international hockey in comparison to New Zealand’s National Hockey League.
“Some things that you could get away with in national league, you definitely couldn’t get away with at this level.
“They [Australia] were hunting in packs, and the fitness and speed of the game was so fast and intense — I was definitely run into the ground at the end of those games.”
Although hockey is fast becoming a year-round sport, Reidy was excited by the opportunity to take a break and work towards cementing her spot in the Black Sticks side.
“Now I get the chance to jump off the turf and put the running shoes on and work on my fitness.
“I’ll be taking some time off the field to get my endurance back up.”
A long and successful career beckons for Reidy, and her first taste of international hockey had increased her desire to play at the top level for years to come.
“After this campaign I’m still on the buzz.
“It just makes you want to have more — it’s such a great environment to be a part of.”
The Black Sticks men also enjoyed some success in their Trans-Tasman series, claiming their first win over Australia on home soil since 1967 in game three, but ultimately lost the series 2-1.