COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - March 14, 2016 - The U.S. U-21 Women's National Team gathered this past weekend in Chapel Hill, N.C. for their final training camp before the Junior Pan American Championship to be held later this month in Trinidad & Tobago. The successful weekend was jammed packed as it included multiple practices, video sessions, meetings and friendly matches against both the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Old Dominion University (ODU).
"This camp was our last chance to train together before we leave for the Junior Pan American tournament," said Janneke Schopman, U-21 USWNT Head Coach. "Throughout the weekend we were able to focus on the final details of our game, the execution of penalty corners and getting to know each other a bit better again."
After a training session on Friday evening, the U-21 USWNT took the field to scrimmage the University of North Carolina in a rescheduled match from mid-February. Remaining scoreless for the first 10 minutes, Team USA had to find a way to threaten through a defensive strong UNC team and on the other side of the field, UNC's offense continually tested the U-21 USWNT's defense. The first goal of the game came from UNC's Austyn Cuneo as she had a quick gain of momentum inside the circle launching the ball into the back of the cage at the at the 14 minute mark making the score USA 0, UNC 1.
Possession continued in UNC's favor as an intercept on a Team USA outlet fed the ball back into Cuneo who on a fast break shot the ball only to have it deflected by USA defender Julia Young (Yorktown, Va.). Continuing to show offensive threats, Team USA secured back-to-back penalty corners with 6 minutes remaining in first half but were unable to convert. UNC found the back of the cage again with 3 minutes remaining on a tip in goal by Eva Van't Hoog to make the score USA 0, UNC 2 at the half.
From the second half start whistle, UNC took the first possession but Team USA's Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) took control and worked it through to the midfield with patience. Though UNC was awarded the first penalty corner of the half, the attempt was unsuccessful and Team USA game momentum with a repossession ball that Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.J.) funneled to Lauren Moyer (York, Pa.) who sent back to Young to create space and allow for reposition. With patience, the U-21 USWNT got on the board in the 12th minute of the second half on a goal by Margaux Paolino (Villanova, Pa.) who tucked the ball in on UNC's goalkeeper Shannon Johnson's stick side to make the score USA 1, UNC 2.
Just 4 minutes later, UNC's Emma Bozek was issued a green card which gave Team USA the necessary space in the midfield to effectively work the ball up the field. Capitalizing on the player-up situation, Moyer worked the ball to Nicole Woods (Beverly, Mass.) who tipped in the equalizer to make the score USA 2, UNC 2. This shift in momentum was enough to secure the win and the go-ahead goal with 7 minutes remaining as Woods found the back of the cage again to give Team USA the lead, USA 3, UNC 2. At the conclusion of the match, both teams agreed on a shootout for practice purposes and Team USA came out on top, 4-3.
The U-21 USWNT spent Saturday debriefing, training, watching video and fine tuning before they met ODU on Sunday.
In the second friendly match against a college team, Team USA was dominant from the first minute applying pressure on ODU's defense causing multiple turnovers. Being persistent to force turnovers, the U-21 USWNT capitalized on the opportunity on the right side of the field stringing together some quick passing to find Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) free in front of the goal to make the score USA 1, ODU 0.
Woods added another goal for Team USA in the 9th minute after great pressure from Gab Major (Royersford, Pa.) resulted in regained possession in the circle who passed the ball to Woods on the post.
Taking into account what the team has learned in trainings and from the previous scrimmage, the U-21 USWNT worked hard to get numbers back on defensive and create multiple scoring opportunities. In the 15th minute, the hard work paid off as a two-touch passing play from multiple players lead to Team USA's third goal by Paolino on a deflection into the top of the net. The last goal in the half for the U-21 USWNT came on a rebound off a penalty corner by Matson to make the score USA 4, ODU 0 at halftime.
Overall the first half of the game showed great composure from Team USA in both the attacking and defensive play, only giving up one circle entry while creating multiple scoring chances. The second half mirrored the same as ODU was fighting to get on the board by threatening the U-21 USWNT's defense with quick breaks into the defensive circle.
Again capitalizing on high pressure just 6 minutes apart, both Laura Hurff (Newark, Del.) and Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) found the back of the cage on similar lead-up plays from an ODU defensive turnover that resulted in quick passing to find open players. This make the score USA 6, ODU 0.
The U-21 USWNT continued to utilize the constant pressure to try and create more scoring opportunities. ODU remained tough and held their ground to defend their circle strong while their goalkeeper made saves denying Team USA.
The back of the cage would be found two more times as after a positive build-up play Paolino's backhand shot would score and Major's short flick from the stroke mark would round out the final score to USA 8, ODU 0.
"The final game against ODU all the pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit together and the girls were able to combine both the defensive points as well as the attacking points into a consistent game of high quality hockey," added Shopman."I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all the college teams that were willing to play against us this spring, Wake Forest, Duke, UNC and ODU. It gives our team the opportunity to play at a high level and gives us the opportunity to learn every game."
The U.S. U-21 Women's National Team will travel to Trinidad & Tobago for the Junior Pan American Championship set to take place March 29 through April 10. Keep up with Team USA on their journey to pursue gold by visiting usafieldhockey.com and following @USAFieldHockey on Twitter. #UN1TED #ChasingTheDream