U.S. meets Australia in Champions Challenge final
DUBLIN - Lauren Pfeiffer (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) scored her fourth goal of the Champions Challenge 1 tournament with 16 minutes remaining in the match to lead the U.S. Women's Team to a 2-1 victory over hosts Ireland this afternoon. The win puts the U.S. facing Australia in the gold medal match tomorrow.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game against Ireland in front of a home crowd," said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. "They are playing well and have certainly elevated their skill level from last year. It is very pleasing to advance to the finals with the young team we at this tournament."
Ireland took a one-goal lead early in the first half and maintained their lead heading into halftime despite five U.S. penalty corners and an abundance of scoring opportunities.
Katie O'Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.) opened the second half with a field goal in the 37th minute to even the match 1-1. O'Donnell slid into the goal post as she redirected a pass from Pfeiffer.
The pressure and persistence paid off as the U.S. converted their tenth penalty corner into a goal. O'Donnell slipped the ball to Pfeiffer who finished with a well executed drag flick.
The U.S. overcame their third deficit of the tournament to advance to the finals. Ireland will now fight Scotland for the bronze medal, while the U.S. will meet Australia for gold at 4:30 p.m. local time tomorrow. Australia is ranked No. 7 in the world and finished fifth at the 2012 Olympic Games.
"I think we need to be the aggressor in the next match tomorrow against Australia," said Bodimeade. "They are the highest ranked team here and we have to be on our game."
Team captain Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.) is looking for some revenge as Australia narrowly beat the U.S. 1-0 during the preliminary rounds at the Olympic Games in London.
"It is great to have teams that we faced in the Olympics here now," said Crandall. "We will be looking for a little revenge tomorrow against Australia, but we are really just excited to be playing for our country in the final."
The winner of Champions Challenge 1 will automatically qualify for Champions Trophy next year, which features the top ranked teams in the world.