Spain Comes from Behind in Final Minutes to Defeat USWNT in FIH Hockey Pro League
ANTWERP, Belgium – In their second FIH Hockey Pro League game of the weekend at the Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plien in Antwerp, Belgium, the No. 15 U.S. Women’s National Team and No. 7 Spain battled until the end. After USA held the lead twice, Spain came from behind in the final minutes to defeat the red, white and blue, 3-2.
Spain controlled majority of the first quarter as USA opted to sit in a half-field press. Three minutes in, Spain earned a penalty corner, but USA’s defense remained tight and didn’t allow the chance to get near the goal. A few more circle entries came for Spain but their first real look came in the 12th minute off a penalty corner. Maria Lopez’s straight shot was stopped by USA goalkeeper Kealsie Robles (Seaford, Va.) and Ally Hammel (Duxbury, Mass.) on the post tried to clear it, but Spain was given another penalty corner. On the second chance, Brooke DeBerdine (Millersville, Pa.) ran a good first line to deflect Lopez’s shot away. Spain concluded the frame putting USA under a lot of offensive pressure, but it closed scoreless.
The second quarter resumed in similar fashion, with Spain on the front foot. They produced a few solid looks, but USA’s defense still didn’t allow the attempts to reach the goal. In the 20th minute, Spain’s persistence paid off as Sara Barrios’ shot was stopped by Robles but her save hit a USA foot giving Spain a penalty corner. Unable to convert on the chance, Spain continued to counter as Maialen Garcia and Florencia Amundson both registered shots. USA created offensive opportunities of their own by using quick passing down the right sideline. In the 29th minute, Paityn Wirth (Thompsontown, Pa.) earned USA a free hit just outside the circle. On the restart, Jillian Wolgemuth (Mount Joy, Pa.) sent a backhand along the left baseline that got through traffic and Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.) put it on a Spain foot behind goalkeeper Melanie Garcia, giving USA a penalty stroke. Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) calmly converted giving USA a 1-0 lead. With 40 seconds remaining before the half, Spain earned a penalty corner but again the chance was well defended by USA to hold the score advantage.
To start the second half, USA brought goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo (Hershey, Pa.) into the game. Possession shifted for a period, as USA started to generate more offensive movement. In the 36th minute, Spain evened the score after S. Barrios capitalized on a penalty corner rebound. Tied at 1-1 both sides finished the quarter with one more look on frame. Spain’s Laura Barrios ripped a backhand that was saved by Rizzo while USA’s Matson was on her own in the circle and tried to create but was met by goalkeeper Garcia.
The fourth quarter was action packed as both teams were on the hunt for the win. USA opened with a deep steal by Grega who tried to pass it to Matson in the circle but enroute it was deflected by a Spain defender right to Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) who’s shot went wide. Moments later Rizzo made a great toe save to keep Spain at bay. In the 54th minute, Maddie Zimmer (Hershey, Pa.) drove to the circle and was fouled from behind as the call was upgraded to a USA penalty corner. Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) gave USA the 2-1 after she buried a drag into the lower right corner. With 3 minutes to go, some defensive lapses as well as two cards really hurt USA. Hoffman was issued a 5-minute yellow for a deliberate breakdown which led to a Spain penalty corner. Off the chance, they equalized when Begoña Garcia put away a goalmouth scramble. A minute later, Grega was given a green card meaning USA fell to nine field players while Spain also pulled their goalkeeper to give them one more advantage. Spain made the most of the situation earning back-to-back penalty corners and on the second attempt B. Garcia scored off the post to capture the lead. USA didn’t let down and were clinical off the restart and earned a penalty corner but couldn’t capitalize on the open net opportunity as they fell 3-2.
Following the game, Spain’s Georgina Oliva was named Player of the Match.
Today’s contest marked a career milestone for USA athlete Natalie Konerth (Huntingtown, Md.) who played in her first international cap for Team USA.
Next, the U.S. Women’s National Team will travel to The Netherlands where they will take on the No. 13 China in another two-game series at HTC Rotterdam on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19, both games starting at 5:30 a.m. ET. For more information, visit the FIH Hockey Pro League Event Page.
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