Team USA off to Successful Start at Youth Olympic Games Qualifier

Feb. 11, 2014, 10:09 p.m. (ET)

The Women’s Under-18 Squad is 1-1 at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Qualifier with completed competitions against Argentina and Uruguay. The U.S. is being led under the experienced guidance of an elite coaching staff consisting of Tracey Fuchs and Tamara Durante.

During the opening match of the tournament, the U.S. team came out strong and pressured Uruguay from the first whistle. In the initial minutes of play, Team USA’s Austyn Cuneo (Waterford, NJ) gathered a teammate’s pass from the right side, cut the ball on an angle and brought it to her reverse, protecting it from an incoming Uruguayan defender. Just before the defender could disrupt the play, Cuneo fired a reverse shot in the lower left quadrant of the cage to give Team USA a one-goal lead.

With the local crowd and drummers behind them, Uruguay did not need much time to even the score. In the 7th minute of play, the Uruguayans penetrated the U.S. defense and scored off a rebound to notch the game at 1-1.

The second period saw a lot of play at both ends of the pitch, but neither team could capitalize. Standing strong in goal for the U.S. was Kelsey Bing (Houston, TX). Bing denied team Uruguay on several strong counter attacks during the last two periods of the match.

Team USA battled until the very end and was rewarded in the last minute of play when Cuneo connected with a mid-air rebound off of the Uruguay goal keeper’s pads. The goal put the U.S. in the lead and remained the game winning play.

For the second match of the tournament, Team USA faced Argentina. After a sluggish start, Team USA found itself in a 4-goal deficit seven minutes of play into the match. The U.S. fought back to stay in the game by scoring its first goal of the game at the nine minute mark. A shot by Sophia Tornetta (Plymouth Meeting, PA) found Margaux Paolino (Villanova, PA) in front of the goal, ready to tap it in for the score. Team USA cut the lead in half at the 12 minute mark when Julianna Tornetta (Plymouth Meeting, PA) threw a ball across the goalmouth for Madison Morano (Hammonton, NJ) to finish and make it 2-4.

After a second period goal by Argentina, Team USA struck again in the 16th minute of play from a turnover by Argentina deep in its own end caused by a relentless Sophia Miller (Medford, NJ), who put the ball on goal and retrieved her own rebound to flick it over the goalkeepers left shoulder. The U.S. made it 4-5 with a great endline run by Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, PA), who dinged one off the post and S. Tornetta was strategically placed to knock another USA goal in. Later in the period Argentina capitalized on two “Challenge calls” to increase their lead and finish the period leading 7-4.

To begin the third period, Argentina scored to double their lead (8-4) in the 25th minute. Hoffman blasted a shot from the 30 which deflected off players in front of the cage and landed in Cuneo’s hands. Cuneo took full advantage and finished the shot in the 27th minute. Team USA’s final goal of the day was scored by Cuneo. She retrieved her own rebound to put the ball over the keeper’s shoulder to make the final score USA 6-8 Argentina.

“I’m happy with how the team fought to stay in the game after such a slow start,” said Durante. “It is a great opportunity to learn and grow as we strive to improve each match.”

For updates on Team USA’s quest for scoring a bid to the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, regularly check