USA upsets home nation and advances to semi-finals

June 23, 2011, 4:42 p.m. (ET)

DUBLIN, IRELAND – Shannon Taylor (La Mesa, CA) scored two of USA’s three goals, to upset home nation and top ranked Ireland in the quarterfinals of Champions Challenge I. An enthusiastic crowd shaded kelly green, loudly rooted for their home team as USA knocked two quick goals in and one more in the second half to secure a 3-1 victory. The win advances USA to the semi-finals on Saturday with a re-match against Scotland.

“We knew the crowd was going to be tough and an extra advantage for Ireland today,” said Rachel Dawson. “It was a great team effort and we came together to get the “W”.”

USA played with speed and intensity from the start of the whistle with much of the first half spent attacking inside the twenty-five. USA’s efforts were rewarded with a penalty corner just over ten minutes into play, but Claire Laubach’s (San Diego, CA) drag flick went wide. Shortly following, Katie Reinprecht (Perkasie, PA) connected with Taylor, putting USA on the boards first.

The match was nothing shy of action-packed with both teams playing a man down on separate occasions for aggressive play. It was only five minutes following her first, that Taylor scored her second goal, this time receiving a pass from teammate Paige Selenski (Shavertown, PA). Ireland was fighting hard to close the gap going into halftime, but USA held the lead 2-0.

Rachel Dawson (Berlin, NJ) extended USA’s lead, 3-0, two minutes into the second half, blasting a shot on goal from the top right of the circle. A penalty corner advantage put the Irish on the boards at the twenty-three minute mark, when a drag flick slipped past Amy Tran-Swenson (Norfolk, VA). A hopeful crowd inspired the home team and boosted their intensity level, but a strong USA defense helped hold Ireland to just one goal and obtain the 3-1 victory.

Ireland’s Head Coach was quoted saying USA was the one opponent he had hoped to avoid.

“Our performance was leading us to this stage of the competition,” said Bodimeade. “We were just as leery of Ireland ourselves. The fear of Ireland at home helped produce our performance today.”

Scotland clinched a one-goal win over Azerbaijan this afternoon to secure a spot in the medal rounds. USA will meet Scotland on Saturday and will join Spain and Japan in the semi-finals. Winners of the those two matches will advance to the finals on Sunday, June 26.

“We understand we have to win the next two games and we are looking forward to the contest against Scotland,” said Bodimeade.

“We didn’t give our best performance in the first match against Scotland,” said Dawson. “We have steadily improved throughout the tournament and this will be a good opportunity to test ourselves. At the end of the day, it does not matter who we are playing, our objective is still the same.”

USA is on right on track to achieve their objective. A win on Saturday will put them into the finals and one step closer to moving on to Champions Trophy.