By Gary R. Blockus | July 23, 2017, 11:48 a.m. (ET)
The U.S. women's field hockey team lines up for the national anthem ahead of the FIH World League Semifinals quarterfinal match between the United States and Japan at Wits Univesity on July 18, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

Erin Matson, just 17 years old, scored the decisive goal in shootout against Germany as the U.S. women’s field hockey team came from behind for the second straight game to win the FIH Women’s Hockey World League Semifinals on Sunday in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Matson, a recent high school graduate and the only player in the tournament born in the 21st century, went straight at goal and delivered the ball into the net to make the difference in a 1-1 (3-2) victory for the gutty U.S. squad against the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Germans.

After a scoreless first half, Germany’s relentless attack paid off in the 38th minute when Camille Nobis scored past two-time U.S. Olympic goalie Jackie Briggs.

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The U.S. team, showing desperation toward the end of the game, forced a foul and Taylor West converted on the penalty stroke high into the upper left corner to tie the score, 1-1, with 2:08 left in regulation.

Melissa Gonzalez — a two-time Olympian and the hero of Thursday’s semifinal win over Olympic gold medalist Great Britain with two goals in shootout, including the decisive tally in sudden death — scored as the first shooter for the U.S. in the shootout. Michelle Vittese, her Olympic teammate in London and Rio, scored next, and then Matson, who is committed to attending North Carolina this fall, struck the winner as the fifth and final shooter. Briggs made three saves during the shootout.

Team USA had already qualified for the 2017 Women’s Hockey World League Finals in November in Auckland, New Zealand, and the 2018 Hockey World Cup next summer in London after a quarterfinal win over Japan.

Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.