Argentina 4, USA 2
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WASHINGTON DC - The USA Field Hockey Women's National Team fell to Argentina today, 4-2, in the third game of a five game test series at American University in Washington DC. Kayla Bashore and Maren Ford scored for the USA.
The USA opened the scoring with two quick goals in the first five minutes, but Argentina was able to push forward and score three to close the first half. The second half was a much tighter contest, as Argentina added only one more goal.
"We executed early," said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. "It was great to get up 2-0, but from that point we needed to recognize Argentina got better, and we didn't respond. That is the difference between the two teams right now."
"We wanted to come out strong," said team vice captain Lauren Crandall. "We let down our intensity and they took some goals, but I'm happy with the way we played in the second half."
Kayla Bashore scored mere moments into the contest, sending a strike through the circle and past Argentina goalkeeper Belen Succi.
"We had good pressure on their backfield," said Bashore. "We were able to get a turnover and I was in the circle. Katie O'Donnell was near the goal and I yelled for her to get out of the way before I shot it. We laughed about it later; I told her if she didn't move she was going to get hit."
Maren Ford scored five minutes later.
"I saw Claire Laubach move into the circle," said Ford, "and I just posted up and made myself a big target. Then I zinged it to the opposite post, knowing Katie Evans was there in case my shot went wide. We've been working on finishing in the circle."
But showing the skill and determination that makes them the number two ranked team in the world, Argentina patiently regained their form. Mariné Russo began the comeback in the 9th minute off a field goal.
Ten minutes later, would then continue its impressive performance in the penalty corner attack with a goal from Rosario Luchetti. Luciana Aymar added a third goal just before the half, which featured a flurry of passing through the circle by the Argentine offense to set up the goal shot.
"Their attack is very dangerous," said Crandall. "They have a lot of options. We do a good job defending the initial shot, but when there's a broken corner or free play, it’s tough. We need to look at that."
"Essentially, it's an eight-vs-four situation," said goalkeeper Jackie Kintzer. "The offense is always going to have the numbers. We have to buy time until other defenders can get into the circle. Unfortunately, they're scoring some of their goals after the first shot. They're very good in that area. They find whoever's open."
After the halftime break, the USA returned to the field with a renewed attitude and mentality. The contest was much more even, although Luchetti would score another penalty corner goal from Argentina in 58th minute.
"The first half and second halves were almost two different games for us," said Maren Ford. "When the second half started, we said we're mentally tougher than we showed at the end of the first half. We made decisions and we stepped up. Sometimes we paid for that, but we definitely learned a lot overall."
Despite the rash of penalty corner goals, Bodimeade acknowledges that while the USA is steadily improving and adjusting, Argentina is fine-tuning as they prepare for the Women's World Cup in August.
"It's not a major concern for me at this point," said Bodimeade. "We're addressing other issues right now, and the defense will come later. Their penalty corner attack is one of the best in the world already, and they're refining it as they head into the World Cup. I'm comfortable with our defense at this point."
The fourth game of the five-game series is Tuesday, May 18 at 6:00pm.