At the HC Rotterdam in The Netherlands, the World Number 15, U.S. Women’s National Team, took on World Ranked 13 China in their first meeting of the FIH Hockey Pro League. Scoreless after the first quarter, China capitalized twice in the second and again in the fourth. A determined USA fought hard to cut the deficit, but their late push fell short, 3-2.
Just 3 minutes into the game, China used a high press to dispossess the USA and be the first team to threaten their attacking circle. USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) made the initial save as the second shot went wide. Moments later USA worked possession the other way where Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.H.) weaved into the circle and used a reverse pass that found Maddie Zimmer (Hershey, Pa.) but her shot hit the outside of the goal. Midway through the quarter, China earned a penalty corner but to no avail. The final few minutes saw China try to create and enter their circle, but USA’s defence remained solid and cut down any chances.
China had the upper hand in the second quarter producing more chances and capitalizing on two goals. To start, they earned three penalty corners in succession but were not able to find an outcome. In the 21st minute, Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) read and intercepted a forward pass for China and on the play, Tiantian Luo was issued a green card. With an athlete down, China threw an overhead to Hong Li in and behind USA’s defensive line where she weaved and backhand swept it into the goal. Less than a minute later, on an identical overhead play, Meng Yuan was caught 1v1 with Bing where she converted to extend their lead to 2-0. USA earned their first penalty corner just before the halftime break but couldn’t find a result.
To start the second half, USA brought goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo (Hershey, Pa.) into the game. USA knew they needed to take more care of the ball to generate attack and cut the goal deficit. An almost chance came for the red, white and blue in the 38th minute after being awarded a penalty stroke. The play started when Jillian Wolgemuth (Mount Joy, Pa.) threw an overhead that found Zimmer in the right corner. She drove forward and passed it to Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) at the top of the circle who was fouled and earned the call. Matson stepped up to take the penalty stroke, but her attempt was saved by China goalkeeper Ping Liu. To close out the frame, Rizzo made a glove save off a lifted shot as China held the 2-0 advantage.
Five minutes into the fourth quarter, China added to their lead after a sweep down the right sideline was finished by Yuan. Although trailing 3-0, USA didn’t fret, fought hard and just a minute later added one back off a penalty corner. Hoffman took the initial drag that was saved, and Zimmer and Charlotte de Vries (Malvern, Pa.) registered shots, but it was Leah Crouse (Virginia Beach, Va.) who scored to make it 3-1. A determined USA team continued to press forward and in the 57th minute closed the margin after Megan Rodgers (San Diego, Calif.) picked up a deflected ball and found the gap between China goalkeeper Ping Liu’s leg. With tensions high, USA pulled Rizzo with 1:56 remaining and the strategy paid off as they earned a penalty corner and had a good look on goal in that time but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Following the game, China’s Hong Li was named Player of the Match.
“I think if we played the way we played in the last quarter, it would have been a different game,” said Matson, following the match. “It’s a learning point for us, so moving forward we need to bring that energy and way we play from minute one.”
“We are growing. This [FIH Hockey] Pro League Europe Tour has taught us a lot already.”
In less than 24 hours, the U.S. Women’s National Team will return to action to take on No. 13 China in their second game of the double-header weekend at 5:30 a.m. ET. For more information, visit the FIH Hockey Pro League Event Page.
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