Argentina 5, USA 1
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WASHINGTON DC - The USA Field Hockey Women's National Team fell to Argentina today, 5-1, in the final game of a five game test series at American University in Washington DC. Michelle Kasold scored for the USA.
"I think in the last two games Argentina stepped up their performance and their ball-handling and they took the game away from us," said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade.
Argentina opened the scoring quickly, with two goals in the first ten minutes. In the 6th minute, Rosario Luchetti tipped a shot from the edge of the circle that lofted over goalkeeper Amy Tran's head and into the goal for the first score. Some crisp passing by the Argentina offense in the circle found Mariela Scarone at the far post where she netted the second goal.
As the USA began to build offensively, the Argentina defense disrupted the attacks inside the scoring circle.
"It was unfortunate that we had a deficit early on, because we were moving the ball crisper and more efficiently than we had in earlier matches," said Assistant Coach Steve Jennings. "But Argentina is good. They set the standard today."
Alexandra Gulla added a penalty corner for Argentina just before the end of the first half.
In the 45th minute, Delfina Merino received a pass all the way from the far corner into the circle, where she tipped it in for the fourth Argentina goal.
The USA broke through in the 56th minute, when Michelle Kasold beat Argentina goalkeeper Laura del Colle with a hard strike to the far post.
"When we moved simply and took care of our basics, we found we could develop an attack easily," said Jennings. "We really could get inside the attacking area. We showed a lot of heart. We learned we can score and finish; we scored in every match, and took the lead in several games. That was really healthy for us, to show we could score goals against one of the best teams in the world."
Argentina added another penalty corner goal from Alexandra Gulla in the 59th minute to cap the scoring.
Terry Walsh, USA Field Hockey Technical Director of High Performance, was duly impressed with Argentina's level of play. While the USA is introducing new players to international competition, Argentina is honing its game for one of the world's top competitions, the Women's World Cup in August.
"That is the best form I've ever seen from Argentina," said Walsh. "That's a great credit to them. I don't know how they will sustain that form all the way to the Women's World Cup. I hope for they sake they do. If they continue, Argentina will certainly be a medallist at the Women's World Cup and they will really press the Dutch for the gold."
The next phase of preparation is for the 2011 Pan American Games, where the champion will automatically qualify for the 2012 Olympics. The USA's chief rival at the Pan Ams will be - again - Argentina.
"It's a goal that's not going to move," said Bodimeade. "We're going to focus on that now. After the Women's National Championship in June, we'll be in a better position to begin our preparations, because right now the disappointment of not qualifying for the World Cup is still hanging over our heads."
"The heartbreak of not reaching the Women's World Cup has now reached its endpoint and it's done," said Walsh. "This is the completion of that phase."
Umpires for this match were Maggie Giddens and Suzi Sutton.