Olympic silver medalists the Netherlands proved too strong in downing New Zealand 2-0 in their Champions Trophy men's hockey quarterfinal in Melbourne on Thursday.
New Black Sticks coach Colin Batch says while the result was disappointing, there were plenty of positives from the match.
"We certainly went in with a lot of confidence, so I was disappointed with the result but happy with a large part of our game," he said.
"We continue to improve, which is pleasing. From where we started in this tournament to where we are now, I think there are significant improvements so we hope to continue that in the next two games."
Batch heaped praise on the side's younger players, many of whom are playing at their first international tournament, saying rookie goalkeeper Hamish McGregor in particular was integral in restricting the Netherlands' lethal strikers.
"We put Hamish in the net for us and he did really well. He's only played four games so it's great experience for him."
The Black Sticks started strongly, earning a penalty corner in the first minute, but the Dutch were quick to work their way back into the game.
Jeroen Hertzberger gave them a 1-0 lead 13 minutes into the first half with a clear strike on a penalty corner.
The Netherlands went into the break without adding to their score, despite dominating possession and managing four shots on goal to New Zealand's none.
Billy Bakker doubled the score barely 10 minutes into the second half, providing a clinical finish to Sander de Wun's superb run down the right
The Black Sticks continued to run strongly, creating some hard-earned chances as the clock wound down.
New Zealand now meet world No.1 Germany in the play-offs for fifth to eighth on Saturday, while the Netherlands go through to do battle with Pakistan in the semifinals.
World No.9 Pakistan stunned defending Olympic champions Germany 2-1, fighting back with two goals to Shakeel Abbasi after Moritz Furste gave Germany a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute of the early quarterfinal.