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USA Complete Pool Play with Loss, Now Switch Focus to Key Quarterfinal

June 16, 2015, 12:37 p.m. (ET)

USA Complete Pool Play with Loss, Now Switch Focus to Key Quarterfinal
The U.S. Women’s National Team Fall to Ireland 0-2

VALENCIA, Spain – June 16, 2015 – With a quarterfinal positioned secured earlier in pool play, the USA despite winning the statistical categories of possession, shots on goal, circle penetrations and corners did not beat Ireland in the one category that matters most, the score line – falling 0-2 to a plucky Ireland side. Both teams will progress to the Thursday’s quarterfinals and will await the outcome of the final pool games before finding out who they will be matched up with.   

“Now that we’ve finished pool play with the reached objective of qualifying for quarterfinals, we shift our focus to the next game and continue on,” said Craig Parnham, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach.

Ireland visited the U.S. Women’s National Team headquarters in Lancaster, Pa. in May, where Team USA had three comfortable victories over the Green Army but the tables were turned as 14th FIH World Ranked Ireland scored early and late to secure the win. The conclusion of pool play for the red, white and blue proved a close tussle as Ireland got off to a fast start with the better of the opening passages. Ireland sliced a quick backhanded shot to the upper right, corner post but USA's goalkeeper Jackie Briggs' (Robesonia, Pa.) ensured the threatening ball was cleared with a glove save. The United States broke into their semicircle first and continued to develop chances that despite continuous effort didn’t prove in a result.

USA's Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) struck a diagonal ball to the left post; however it didn’t connect with another stick for the necessary finishing touch. Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, Pa.) came up big in the midfield by interrupting an Ireland breakaway with a strong block tackle to find Kelsey Kolojejchick (Larksville, Pa.) earning Team USA’s first penalty corner. Back-to-back corners opportunities didn’t change the scoreboard. It wasn’t until Ireland’s captain Megan Frazer entered the circle unmarked in the 29th minute, enabling her to send a smooth reverse strike from the top left of the semicircle and into the cage to create a halftime lead of USA 0, Ireland 1.

“That wasn’t really us today,” said USA’s Katie O’Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.). “We didn’t have our ‘Gr’ factor that we normally carry for the full match. So those glimpses cost us. Our goal is to continue to bring all we have to the entire match. We’re looking forward to the next match.”

A back and forth battle ensued against USA’s attack force and Ireland’s defensive unit. Although the United States made numerous strong runs with possession into their attacking end, Ireland remained steadfast opposed to the USA’s relentless strikes. To close out the match and confirm their win, Ireland counter attacked and capitalized on a three on one with Anna O’Flanagan out to the left of Briggs, received a quick pass at the base line and pushed the ball past the goal line to create a final score of USA 0, Ireland 2.

USA pool play began with a 2-0 win to Uruguay followed by a 4-1 victory to South Africa. In their third game, Team USA and Germany left the pitch with 2-2 draw. The squad continues on with FIH Hockey World League Semifinals Thursday against the second or third place finisher in Pool A. The quarterfinal winners will likely book themselves a ticket to Rio 2016 with the  top three finishers in FIH Hockey World League Semifinals guaranteed Olympic qualification.

Follow @USAFieldHockey on Twitter for live Team USA match updates.  A live broadcast of FIH Women’s Hockey World League Semifinals can be viewed by subscribing to Willow.  #UN1TED