FIH Pro League – Women
Great Britain 5 USA 0
For the second day running at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Great Britain outplayed the USA to achieve their biggest ever margin of victory in the FIH Pro League.
After prevailing 5-1 on Saturday, Great Britain once more scored five goals but kept a clean sheet with goalkeeper Maddie Hinch virtually a spectator for most of the match. The USA, in suffering their tenth defeat out of ten matches in this season’s competition, had little to celebrate apart from Alyssa Parker winning her 50th cap.
Great Britain made one change, Jo Hunter returning to the squad in place of Amy Costello. Head Coach Mark Hager had intended to rest one bench player in order to prepare for 16 player squads in the Olympics, but that plan was altered in the 39th minute when Hunter replaced the injured Shona McCallin.
USA Head Coach Anthony Farry made two changes, Jillian Wolgemuth and Ali Campbell replacing Miranda Rigg and Laura Hurff as the 15th ranked team in the world gained more experience against the fifth ranked team.
Great Britain ultimately used the match to practice their penalty corner routine, having fifteen opportunities over the sixty minutes to add to the ten they won on Saturday. Having forced their first penalty corner after just 28 seconds in game one, they only needed 27 seconds to receive their first award 23 hours later, and followed up with a second 13 seconds afterwards, the USA defending both.
However, it was third time lucky in the second minute when Grace Balsdon rifled the ball into the top right corner beyond Kelsey Bing to open the scoring.
Goal number two came from the hosts’ sixth penalty corner with barely 1.2 seconds remaining of the first quarter, Giselle Ansley’s drag-flick deflected past Bing by defender Alexandra Hammel.
Forty-one seconds into the second quarter, the USA trailed 3-0 as Great Britain converted their seventh set-piece. Anna Toman and Laura Unsworth couldn’t force the ball into the goal but Sarah Evans scored from close range at the right post to leave the visitors reeling.
In spite of forcing another eight penalty corners in the match, Great Britain’s two remaining goals both came from open play in the second half as the USA continued to weather the storm as shots rained down on their goal.
Unsworth was unlucky from the eighth penalty corner striking the ball against the left post and an unwary Sarah Robertson following a recovery from a mis-trap. Izzy Petter blazed the ball over the bar midway through the second quarter and the USA made things difficult for themselves when Linnea Gonzales had to retreat over the halfway line after taking too long to prepare for Great Britain’s tenth penalty corner as half time beckoned.
As in the first game, Kealsie Robles replaced Bing in goal for the second half and within forty-five seconds of the third quarter had faced another two penalty corner attempts as the tally continued to mount. Robles made an excellent double save from Ansley and Ellie Rayer from the second.
Three minutes later, a long run from Rayer and support play from Sarah Jones set up a scoring chance for Owsley which was saved as the pressure continued. Jones just missed a pass at the right post from the hosts’ thirteenth penalty corner and Balsdon shot over the bar from the fourteenth as somehow the USA kept their goal intact in the third quarter.
USA attacks were rare, but Hinch’s clean sheet was threatened in the 48th minute when Danielle Grega ran into the 23 metre area and onwards into the circle before forcing a fine kick save with the visitors’ only shot of the match.
The USA couldn’t hold out forever and shortly afterwards it was Sarah Robertson who scored Great Britain’s fourth goal, finally beating Robles. Jones added the fifth goal four minutes later with a faint touch which was just enough to evade Robles and seal the hosts’ all-time record victory.
Great Britain still had time to force a fifteenth penalty corner with just under five minutes to play, Ansley’s shot unfortunately hitting USA captain Amanda Magadan.
With the FIH Pro League standings being ordered on percentage, Great Britain are fourth on 55.6% having earned twenty points from twelve games.
The USA played and lost nine matches but the Netherlands were awarded double points in January 2020 after the first of two matches was cancelled. The Netherlands beat the USA 9-0 in the second game to be credited with two wins.
Great Britain’s next matches will be at the Olympic Games in Tokyo but the home nations will have the EuroHockey Championships in Amsterdam next in their sights.
Scorers: Grace Balsdon 2-PC, Giselle Ansley 15-PC, Sarah Evans 16-PC, Sarah Robertson 48-F, Sarah Jones 52-F
Starters: Maddie Hinch (GK), Laura Unsworth, Anna Toman, Sarah Jones, Susannah Townsend, Ellie Rayer, Hollie Pearne-Webb (Capt.), Shona McCallin, Lily Owsley, Grace Balsdon, Izzy Petter,
Subs: Sarah Robertson (2 mins), Sarah Evans (3), Leah Wilkinson (4), Giselle Ansley (4), Jo Hunter (39).
Sub not used: Sabbie Heesh (GK).
Starters: Danielle Grega, Madison Maguire, Amanda Magadan (Capt.), Linnea Gonzales, Mary Barham, Alexandra Hammel, Karlie Heistand, Kelsey Bing (GK), Elizabeth Yeager, Kelsey Briddell, Jillian Wolgemuth.
Subs: Lauren Moyer (2 mins), Taylor West (2), Ali Campbell (3), Alyssa Parker (4), Nicole Woods (6), Haley Randall (6), Kealsie Robles (GK) (31).
Cards: Green: Nicole Woods (16 mins), Mary Barham (30 mins).
Umpires: Alison Keogh (IRL) and Sarah Wilson (SCO).
Colin Pike - Hockey World News