SANTIAGO, Chile - November 24, 2016 - The U.S. U-21 Women's National Team started off its women's Hockey Junior World Cup campaign with a strong scoring performance over Zimbabwe. Seven different USA athletes scored, with three scoring twice, as USA won their first pool play match 10-0.
"You never know how you see yourself playing the first ten minutes of a big tournament," said Janneke Schopman, U-21 USWNT Head Coach. "We started off well, when we got that corner, and it went in, it gave us a lot of confidence. I think from that moment on we played really well and created a lot of opportunities."
Off the starting whistle, Team USA gained momentum and kept possession early. Being patient with passing, in the 5th minute Julianna Tornetta (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) got a backhand shot off from the top of the circle that went just wide of the goal. Persistence continued as Team USA earned its first penalty corner in the 8th minute and Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) converted off a drag flick to make it USA 1, ZIM 0.
Small range shots continued for Team USA and a second penalty corner was earned in the 9th minute of play. Off a missed insert, Hoffman got a hard shot off but Zimbabwe’s defensive unit held strong to clear the ball. Play continued to be in USA’s possession while they worked the ball up the field. Being poised in transferring fields to find space, play opened up on the right side where Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.J.) found room in the circle and one-time swept the ball into the far left of the goal. This made the score USA 2, ZIM 0 in the 14th minute of play.
Four minutes later, USA grabbed a Zimbabwe foot inside the circle and earned its third penalty corner. Though the opportunity was missed, Team USA regained possession and swung the ball out and around the backfield. Working it into the circle, at close range Gab Major (Royersford, Pa.) tucked one behind Zimbabwe’s goalkeeper to extend the lead. Another USA goal came just a minute later when Zimbabwe's goalkeeper was caught high and Erin Matson's (Chadds Ford, Pa.) attempt dribbled into the goal.
Opportunities continued to come for Team USA as Nicole Woods (Beverly, Mass.) added her name to the scoresheet in the 24th minute and Matson grabbed her second of the game in the 25th minute. Zimbabwe threatened forward and almost got inside its attacking circle but USA’s defense lead by the communication of Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) limited the chance. A quick start for USA translated into instant offense and Matson dribbled in and grabbed her second of the game in the 27th minute.
At the 30th minute mark, USA earned its fourth penalty corner and Hoffman’s drag flick attempt was read by Zimbabwe’s left trail and cleared out of danger. With one minute left in the half, USA earned its fifth penalty corner that Hoffman scored to notch her second goal and give USA a 7-0 lead at the half.
Starting the second half, Zimbabwe got a spark after a misplayed ball off a USA penalty corner that lead to a quick counter attack down the field. USA defender Carrie Hanks (Niskayuna, N.Y.) stopped the play before it entered the circle. Being persistence, Zimbabwe regained possession and earned its first circle penetration testing USA’s defense. Play transitioned to the other end of the field where in the 47th minute USA earned its seventh penalty corner. A hard shot from Laura Hurff (Newark, Del.) was saved by Zimbabwe’s goalkeeper but Margaux Paolino (Villanova, Pa.) was on the end of the rebound to make it USA 8, ZIM 0.
Zimbabwe continued to work the ball forward and off a hard foul Hurff was given a green card in the 52nd minute. USA’s offense kept threatening forward and from the right hand side of the pitch Woods ripped a backhand shot that sailed into the net in the 57th minute to boost the lead to 9-0.
Just a minute later, Zimbabwe worked the ball into its offensive circle and earned its first penalty corner of the match. Off the slip hit, Bing stood tall and made the initial save. For the remainder of the game possession was in favor of USA. Linnea Gonzales (Bel Air, Md.) scored the final goal of the match off a backhand shot that was deflected in by a Zimbabwe defender. Back-to-back Team USA penalty corners that were not converted on in the final two minutes ended the game with a final score of USA 10, ZIM 0.
"It difficult when you play a team like Zimbabwe who got 7 goals scored against them in the first half," said Schopman. "They were a bit less fearless in the second half and just went for it. We took a bit of a back step in the first 5 minutes, and you see every team can become dangers especially if we don't play as a unit defensively. We picked it up well, started playing simple and how we wanted to play."
The U-21 USWNT is back in action tomorrow evening in its second pool match against The Netherlands at 6:00 p.m. EST. Click here to watch all games of the JWC. Follow Team USA on its journey at the JWC by staying tuned to usafieldhockey.com. #SQUAD #HJWC2016 #RockTheJuniors
Video courtesy of the FIH