TACARIGUA, Trinidad – April 9, 2016 – After an impressive and uninterrupted succession of pitch victories at the 2016 Junior Pan American Championships, the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team went head-to-head with the only other undefeated nation at the event, Argentina. As the top-two finishers of the tournament, both USA and Argentina have achieved verification of their invitation to the Junior Women's World Cup in Santiago, Chile November 23 - December 4, 2016. Now, with one goal already accomplished, Team USA looked to bring home a championship medal in the final round of competition in Trinidad. After 70 minutes of play, Argentina won with a score of USA 0, Argentina 6.
The energy exerted from both teams never hit a lull from the umpire's opening whistle. Argentina fought fast and hard in their attack circle to keep ball possession in their favor looking to strike. Team USA's defense held strong under the persistent pressure, a theme that would be present throughout the entire match. Argentine forwards forced a foul to earn their first penalty corner in the 2nd minute of the match. A straight ball from the top of the circle threatened to change the scoreboard but the boldly placed stick of USA defender Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) prevented the ball from breaking entry into the goal and kept the game locked at zeroes. Hoffman's quick reflexes were utilized again to redirect a rebounded hit on cage. Securing their second penalty corner of the match, Argentina’s drag flick to target came to a sudden halt when Hoffman placed yet another important touch on the ball to send it off the end line. Another attempt to break into the goal cage was stopped when USA keeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) stretched her stick upward to deny a high drag flick near the roof of the cage.
The match rapidly transitioned to the opposite end of the turf off of a loose ball, where USA’s Gab Major (Royersford, Pa.), leading goal scorer for the USA, found an Argentine's foot to win the team’s first corner in the 8th minute. Despite several hard shots, Team USA didn't earn a result. In the 9th minute of play a solid strike to the right side of the cage gave Argentina their first goal making the score USA 0, Argentina 1. Looking to find the equalizer, Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) released a hard backhand shot that went left of the post. Eager to get on the scoreboard, USA maintained ball movement in their attacking half. A foul on Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) outside the circle was upgraded to USA's second penalty corner in the 17th minute mark. Hoffman's direct drag flick was saved by Argentina’s goalkeeper.
Argentina captured another penalty corner by connecting the ball with a USA defender’s foot. Another penalty corner followed for Argentina, their fourth of the match, but the opportunity was dismantled by Team USA. Argentina’s relentless offensive was contained by a unified USA backfield. Argentina launched a high ball at the goal, but Bing with a well-placed glove prevented the ball from changing the score. Argentina wasn't able to convert on their fifth penalty corner opportunity. Julia Young (Yorktown, Va.) anticipated a pass to cut off Argentina’s forward movement and transfer play up field. The ball quickly relocated to Argentina’s attack circle where they delivered a backhand shot from the center of the circle. Bing was ready and made a spectacular save to create a halftime score of USA 0, Argentina 1.The second half opened with action flowing into the Argentina’s attacking end. An open Argentine player in front of Bing received the ball to plot the ball at close range into the goal to change the score USA 0, Argentina 2. Team USA continued with noteworthy resilience in their defense circle. Bing remained alert and composed through constant fire of Argentina’s sticks. In the 43rd minute of the game, Major used speed and clever stick work to beat two Argentina defenders. She was fouled outside the circle and the call was upgraded to USA's third penalty corner. Although, Argentina’s fly stepped out early and was sent back to the halfway line, USA was unable to get through Argentina’s defense. The direction of the game was transferred to the opposite side of the pitch and in the 48th minute which allowed Argentina to score off of their sixth penalty corner of the game. Bing saved the initial shot, but Argentina was able to convert on the rebound to make it USA 0, Argentina 3. USA snagged the ball off of Argentine’s stick at the midfield line for USA to develop a 3v3 toward goal. Vittese ripped a backhand shot to cage that hit the outside of the goal cage’s sideboard.
with rebounded shots by Vittese as well as back-to-back penalty corners in USA’s favor in the final minutes, the final match report concluded with USA 0, Argentina 6.
Continue to follow the U-21 USWNT as they prepare for the 2016 Junior Women's World Cup by checking usafieldhockey.com for updates. #UN1TED