NORFOLK, Va. – May 25, 2013 – U.S. head coach Craig Parnham is one day closer to finalizing the 2013-14 U.S. Women’s National Team roster as day three of the Women’s National Championship wrapped up this evening on the campus of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. Late this afternoon New Jersey recorded their first win of the tournament, Pennsylvania defeated New England/North, and under the lights Mid-Atlantic and Under-21 battled to a draw.
Julia Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.) tallied two goals to help New Jersey secure their first win of the tournament against Midwest/California. Reinprecht’s first goal was scored in the 32nd minute to give New Jersey a slight advantage going into the second half.
Sydney Kirby (Cleveland Heights, Ohio) increased New Jersey’s lead to 2-0 in the 63rd minute. Reinprecht scored her second goal of the afternoon in the 66th minute putting New Jersey ahead by three goals with four minutes remaining. However, Natalie Cafone (Fairfield, N.J.), quickly answered back with a goal, also in the 66th minute, giving Midwest/California hope for a comeback. Shellie Onstead, head coach of the Midwest/California team, made the decision to pull the goalkeeper for an extra attacking player, but unfortunately it did not pay off for them.
“We had a good first half,” said New Jersey head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn. “California is a quality team and they always get better throughout the tournament so we knew we would be up for a challenge today. I think we have improved a lot since our first game and that’s really what it is all about for us.”
Pennsylvania player Katie O’Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa) logged two goals in the first five minutes of action against New England/North. Jenna Kovar (Hampton Bays, N.Y.) added a third goal in the 9th minute and Pennsylvania entered halftime with a comfortable 3-0 lead.
The action continued but no goals were tallied until the 66th minute when Kellie Joyce (South Pomfret, Vt.) scored for New England/North. The final score was in favor of Pennsylvania, 3-1.
“I think it is really exciting that we are putting the ball in the goal and every game we are getting a little bit stronger as a team,” said Pennsylvania head coach Denise Zelenak. “We have been working on our defensive presses and playing as a unit and we have been seeing different players step up. With three goals every game, I can’t complain and we are happy to be going into our day off in control.”
The final match of the evening played under the lights was a hard fought battle between the top ranked teams, Mid-Atlantic/South and Under-21’s. Both teams have had a successful start to the tournament, and entered tonight’s match with six points apiece.
Not only was the matchup a battle for first in the standings, it was a battle of the sisters as Michelle and Carissa Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) took on younger sister Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.). After a scoreless first half, Taylor West (Princess Anne, Md.) put Mid-Atlantic/South on the board in the 56th minute. Maxine Fluharty (Millsboro, Del.) evened the match, 1-1, with a goal in the 62nd match.
“I thought we played a great game,” said Under-21 head coach Steve Jennings. “Both teams were really sharp and it was a chess match from start to finish. I am really proud of the way we hung in there and in the end we were able to get the draw. We wanted the win of course, but I think when you go down by a goal in the closing moments and still come back to get one shows a lot of poise and I am really happy with the result today.”
Although sitting comfortably on top of the leader board, Jennings says his team is not getting ahead of themselves. “We know there are two huge games and everything still to play for. We are taking one game at a time and trying to see if we can be in the final and win it all when it gets down to that point,” said Jennings.
With an off day tomorrow, Zelenak says her team will be putting their feet up. “Three games in a row, they need a little non-hockey time but we will be ready to go on Monday.”
Monday morning Pennsylvania takes on Mid-Atlantic/South at 9:00 a.m., followed by New England/North and Midwest/California at 11:00 a.m., with the final match of the day at 1:00 p.m. between New Jersey and the Under-21 team. All matches will be played at Powhatan Sports Complex on the campus of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. Admission is free and open to the public. For more Women’s National Championship coverage, checkout usafieldhockey.com and @USAFieldHockey for tournament updates, results and features.