FIH Pro League
USA 1 England 3 (Saturday)
USA 2 England 2 (England win 3-1 on shootout) (Sunday)
England gained their first points of the 2021-22 FIH Pro League against the USA, needing a second half performance in Game One to earn their first victory of the season and then having to mount a comeback from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in Game Two before prevailing 3-1 in the shootout.
Both games were played in hot weather at the Karen Shelton Stadium on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill, but England had to battle against the team ranked eleven places below them before breaking their duck.
England, ranked fourth, had started their initial FIH Pro League campaign with back to back 5-2 defeats in Argentina before being unable to fulfill their scheduled fixtures in India and with rearranged dates impossible to find, India were awarded all six points.
For the trip to the USA, England were without their squad members who play club hockey in mainland Europe, and elected to give debuts to Pippa Lock, Lorna Mackenzie and Lily Walker.
USA captain, Amanda Magadan won her one hundredth cap in Game One, but it was England who celebrated their maiden win in the competition after Great Britain had competed in the previous editions. After a goalless first half, Magadan’s opposite number, Hollie Pearne-Webb, opened the scoring in the 36th minute with a penalty corner drag-flick to beat home goalkeeper, Kealsey Robles, who had replaced Kelsey Bing at half-time.
Six minutes later, Darcy Bourne’s pass was instantly rattled into the roof of the net by Ellie Rayer as England doubled their lead to put the USA under pressure. With five minutes remaining, Grace Balsdon also found the roof of the net from a penalty corner to ensure the victory, although in the final minute, Erin Matson scored a consolation goal for the USA with a superb finish.
The next day, the USA, ranked 15th, belied their lower ranking for three quarters as England struggled in the Chapel Hill heat. Both USA goals came from penalty corners, Megan Rodgers scoring in the eleventh minute from a rebound from Elizabeth Yeager’s initial drag-flick.
Nine minutes later, Danielle Grega deflected Matson’s shot past Sabbie Heesh to double the USA’s advantage, England having much to think about including the effects of losing their right to a video referral after referring the goal.
Just before half time, it was almost game over as Karlie Kisha failed to touch in Yeager’s drag-flick at the left post. The third quarter was scoreless, but England’s comeback began in the 48th minute when Lock volleyed the ball past Bing, who played the whole game, at the left post. With just two minutes remaining, Sophie Hamilton converted a penalty corner by poking the ball over the goal-line from very short range after the ball evaded Bing’s control.
Having drawn 2-2, the teams faced a shootout in which England went first. Sophie Hamilton put England ahead before Lauren Moyer shot wide from the USA’s first attempt. Darcy Bourne then saw her effort saved, but Ashley Sessa was unable to take advantage following a save from Heesh. Izzy Petter found the backboard from a tight angle to give England a 2-0 lead before Matson got the USA on the scoreboard from their third attempt.
Bing knocked the ball away from Pearne-Webb and Yeager, in attempting to level the score, also had the ball knocked away by Heesh. Rayer clinched the extra point, scoring by squeezing the ball between Bing’s legs to seal the shootout win at 3-1.
England are next in FIH Pro League when they travel the shorter distance to Mönchengladbach to face Germany on 4/ 5 May.
Scorer: Erin Matson 60-F
Starters: Erin Matson, Lauren Moyer, Danielle Grega, Jillian Wolgemuth, Julianna Tornetta, Amanda Magadan (Capt.), Fusine Govaert, Alexandra Hammel, Karlie Kisha, Kelsey Bing (GK), Paityn Wirth.
Subs: Ashley Sessa (3 mins), Jacqueline Sumfest (5), Hope Rose (5), Madeleine Zimmer (5), Elizabeth Yeager (6), Alia Marshall (7), Kealsie Robles (GK) (31).
Cards: Green: Hope Rose (59 mins).
Scorers: Hollie Pearne-Webb 36-PC, Ellie Rayer 42-F, Grace Balsdon 55-PC
Starters: Esme Burge, Holly Hunt, Ellie Rayer, Hollie Pearne-Webb (Capt.), Fiona Crackles, Lizzie Neal, Sophie Hamilton, Sabbie Heesh (GK), Martha Taylor, Grace Balsdon, Alex Malzer.
Subs: Darcy Bourne (3 mins), Izzy Petter (4), Olivia Hamilton (4), Lorna Mackenzie (5), Lily Walker (7), Pippa Lock (7).
Sub not used: Miriam Pritchard (GK).
Cards: Green: Alex Malzer (33 mins).
Umpires: Tyler Klenk (CAN) and Suzi Sutton (USA).
Scorers: Megan Rodgers 11-PC, Danielle Grega 20-PC
Starters: Erin Matson, Lauren Moyer, Danielle Grega, Jillian Wolgemuth, Brooke Deberdine, Amanda Magadan (Capt.), Fusine Govaert, Alexandra Hammel, Karlie Kisha, Kelsey Bing (GK), Madeleine Zimmer.
Subs: Paityn Wirth (3 mins), Elizabeth Yeager (5), Ashley Sessa (6), Megan Rodgers (6), Alia Marshall (6), Jacqueline Sumfest (6).
Sub not used: Kealsie Robles (GK).
Scorers: Pippa Lock 48-F, Sophie Hamilton 58-PC
Starters: Darcy Bourne, Esme Burge, Holly Hunt, Ellie Rayer, Hollie Pearne-Webb (Capt.), Fiona Crackles, Lizzie Neal, Sophie Hamilton, Sabbie Heesh (GK), Grace Balsdon, Alex Malzer.
Subs: Izzy Petter (4), Martha Taylor (4), Pippa Lock (4), Lorna Mackenzie (4), Olivia Hamilton (7), Lily Walker (7).
Sub not used: Miriam Pritchard (GK)
Cards: Green: Grace Balsdon (10 mins), Hollie Pearne-Webb (59 mins).
Umpires: Maggie Giddens (USA) and Suzi Sutton (USA).