USA Field Hockey NEWS PHOTO GALLERY: U-21 ...

PHOTO GALLERY: U-21 USWNT Falls to Belgium in Close JWC Match

Dec. 02, 2016, 2:15 p.m. (ET)

SANTIAGO, Chile - December 2, 2016 - With the opportunity to play in a higher placement game on the line, the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team and Belgium battled it out on a typical Chilean summer day at the women's Hockey Junior World Cup. While both teams had many chances, Belgium struck first and added another just before halftime while USA responded late and added a goal minutes before the final buzzer. The late effort push wouldn't be enough as the game finished with Team USA falling to Belgium 2-1.

"In the beginning we weren't ready to go out and give everything as a unit," said Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas), U-21 USWNT's goalkeeper. "We were attacking in small groups and defending in small groups and weren't playing together.

The opening minutes saw possession shared between both teams before USA earned a penalty corner in the 3rd minute. Unsuccessful off the attempt, Belgium quickly countered and grabbed a penalty corner of its own. The passing combination off the top finished with a sweep that went wide.

With numbers up, Belgium took advantage of a situation in the 7th minute as they used pristine passing to work the ball behind USA’s defense. Daphne Gose found herself open with the ball on the left post and flicked it in the net to give Belgium a 1-0 lead. USA’s attacking pressure didn’t lag as Margaux Paolino (Villanova, Pa.) worked the ball into Belgium’s circle looking to create an opportunity.

Possession went back-and-forth for a period of time as chances were present on both ends of the pitch. In the 21st minute, Paolino ran onto a ball thrown into space and as she cut it back, she was pushed outside the circle by a Belgium defender. The call was upgraded to USA’s second penalty corner. Multiple chances came off the corner attempt but Belgium’s defensive unit held strong. USA regained possession and earned another penalty corner that finished with no result.

Play continued to change possession as both teams threatened forward. Quick passing by Belgium opened up the field and led to a shot on goal but USA’s goalkeeper Bing was there to make the save. Moments later, Paolino took the ball with speed down the left side of the field, cut the corner and backhand passed it to Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.). On the forehand, Matson’s hard one-time shot went just wide of the goal.

Turnovers seemed costly as USA gave up possession deep within its defending end giving Belgium momentum. With seconds before the halftime horn blew, Belgium worked it into USA’s defensive circle and Lien Hillewaert swept it into the net to give Belgium a 2-0 lead at half.

USA started the second half putting high pressure on Belgium’s outletting unit. The persistence opened more offensive lanes as USA looked to get on the scoreboard. In the 44th minute, Belgium’s Michelle Struijk was given a green card. USA continued to work hard on defense, going in pairs and tackling together. A close chance came for Belgium just under the 50 minute mark when a forward crossed the ball from the left baseline toward the goalmouth where Bing and captain Julia Young (Yorktown, Va.) cleared it out of danger.

Still looking to get on the scoreboard, USA strung multiple passes together in the attacking 25 yards but was unable to connect to finish. Belgium shifted the momentum to the other end where they got of three quick shots in a row but Bing denied all attempts. Not letting up, USA continued to threaten forward looking to break the goal line. With 5 minutes to play, USA earned back-to-back penalty corners. Off the second attempt on a play back to the insert, Matson took the ball and drove around Belgium’s goalkeeper and put it in to cut Belgium’s lead and make it USA 1, BEL 2. Time wound down before USA could counter again leaving the score 2-1 to Belgium.

"The first half was a little unfortunate," said Bing. "We were kind of caught on our heels but I think we pulled it together in the second half. It's unfortunate we didn't get the result we wanted and we can't change much now, but we are looking forward to our next game."

The U-21 USWNT will play their final game of the JWC on Sunday, December 4 against England at 9:45 a.m. EST. Click here to watch all games of the JWC. Follow Team USA on their journey at the JWC by staying tuned to #SQUAD #HJWC2016 #RockTheJuniors

USA Goalkeeper Kelsey Bing's post-game interview the Pan American Hockey Federation
Video courtesy of PAHF