TORONTO -- For the U.S. women’s field hockey team, the Road to Rio just became one step shorter.
After winning its first pool play game against Uruguay, 5-0, Team USA took the pitch against Chile on Wednesday at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
With a spot in Rio on the line for the team that finishes with the gold medal, the women knew exactly what was at stake.
“We did our homework,” Team USA goalkeeper Jackie Briggs said. “We had each other's backs and had a bit of grit at the end when Chile had a good extra push. We put in a solid performance and successfully dealt with pressure which gives us some confidence going into the next game."
Jill Witmer started off the scoring for Team USA in the sixth minute of the game on a pass from Michelle Kasold.
Paige Selenski netted one of her own in the 12th minute on an assist from Lauren Crandall.
“It kind of bobbled through some defenders and my teammates,” Selenski said. “I saw the ball on open ground and I was able to put my swing on it.”
In a tough defensive test, the U.S. women were able to hold the score through the second half and pulled out the win, 2-0, to get one step closer to the Rio qualification they so desperately want to earn.
The crowd, full of American supporters, wasn’t shy about their excitement.
“We love seeing the red, white and blue out there,” Selenski said. “It’s something that gives us energy and gives us momentum going forward into the Games. It really pushes us along.”
With a final pool play game on Friday against Cuba, head coach Craig Parnham was excited for the next step in the journey.
"It was certainly an important game for us to win today," Parnham said. "Chile is an opponent that has several threats and they're improving. We're pleased to get the win today. It sets us up nicely for the next game which is our focus now."
“We got the win we needed,” Selenski said. “We’re just trying to take it one step at a time.”