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

PHOTO GALLERY: U-21 USWNT Finishes Second in Pool A After a Hard Fought Battle with Korea

Nov. 27, 2016, 3:18 p.m. (ET)

SANTIAGO, Chile - November 27, 2016 - The final pool play match for the U.S. U-21 Women's National Team against Korea at the women's Hockey Junior World Cup was a constant battle. Although Korea scored first, Team USA used grit to capitalize on scoring opportunities and secure the victory and finish second in Pool A.

"Korea is an interesting team, we've never played against this nation's team which means we were kind of playing against an unknown," said Janneke Schopman, U-21 USWNT Head Coach. "Their aerials, I think, literally threw us by surprise and caught us a bit off guard. They prevented us from getting into the game, setting ourselves and creating a flow."

Off the starting whistle, Korea came out strong being presented with a few scoring opportunities. In the 2nd minute Seoyeong Kim capitalize on a backhand shot to give Korea an early 1-0 lead. USA quickly transitioned the ball to the other end of the field looking for open lanes and a chance came when at close range, Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) found room and got a backhand shot off that went just wide. Moments later, Julianna Tornetta’s (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) turning shot from the top of the circle was saved by Korea’s goalkeeper.

Continuing to look for opportunities, USA earned its first penalty corner in the 12th minute. The initial shot from the top was saved by Korea’s goalkeeper and the follow-up rebound attempt went across the goalmouth untouched. Changing the attack, Korea quickly moved the ball to the other end and took a shot from the top right of the circle. The shot fell to a player on the left post but Julia Young (Yorktown, Va.) was solid on defense and shut down the chance.

Applying high pressure USA threatened forward with many circle penetrations. Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.J.) drove hard just inside the circle, fired a shot and Margaux Paolino (Villanova, Pa.) was there to tip it past Korea’s goalkeeper. This goal in the 18th minute tied the score at USA 1, KOR 1.

On defense, USA worked hard and pressured together. Matson effective gained possession, created space and worked the ball into the attacking end. A hard foul by Korea outside the circle was upgraded to USA’s second penalty corner. Though the chance was not successful, USA regained possession and was awarded a free hit. Korea’s defender was not 5-yards from the play and another penalty corner was given to USA. Korea defended the opportunity well and transitioned down the field with speed. Being crafty, Korea earned its first penalty corner of the game in the 28th minute.

In the 30th minute, Brooke DeBerdine (Millersville, Pa.) was given a green card. Korea took that opportunity and threatened forward but USA defended well and kept play outside the circle. With time winding down, USA pushed on as a backhand attempt by Gab Major (Royersford, Pa.) sailed just over the goal.

Eager to break the tie before half, USA continued to defend in pairs and in the 33rd minute, Matson ripped a hard low backhand shot that found the backboard to make it USA 2, KOR 1. Korea immediately pushed down to the other end where USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) made a diving save in the last minute to assure the USA lead going into halftime.

"We held our ground but also got caught up sometimes," said Matson. "We got back together and figured it out as a team. I was glad we were head and knew we had to stay strong and push through."

Three minutes into the second half, USA earned a penalty corner. The straight shot was saved by Korea’s goalkeeper but another penalty corner was given off a rebound fight. Unable to convert the second chance, USA kept knocking as Major fired off a backhand attempt.

Turnovers seemed costly in the midfield as both teams fought hard to break through tackles. Korea earned a penalty corner in the 48th minute and the straight shot was saved by Bing. Another chance came for Korea as a hard low angle shot went across the circle but no player was there to finish.

Korea continued to fight and grabbed its third penalty corner in the 57th minute. Off the fly, Laura Hurff (Newark, Del.) got a stick on the drag and deflected it over the endline. On the free hit, Korea found space and worked the ball back inside where Bing was found in a 1v1 situation and came up big and made the save.

Looking to get the ball to the other end of the pitch, J. Tornetta threw an overhead into space that Nicole Woods (Beverly, Mass.) ran onto, took with speed and crossed presenting USA with another scoring chance. Using grit, USA earned a penalty corner in the 58th minute. Though the initial shot was saved by Korea’s goalkeeper, Lauren Moyer (York, Pa.) was there to finish the rebound and extend the lead to USA 3, KOR 1.

A minute after scoring, Moyer was given a green card and Korea used the player advantage to test USA’s defense. Korea ripped shot after shot, with one hitting the crossbar and another just going out of the reach of a diving player.

In the 64th minute, Korea’s Huigyeong Ong and USA’s Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) were both awarded 5-minute yellow cards on separate plays. Korea gained possession and fought for the remainder of the match continuing to fire off shots and hitting hard balls into the circle. A final Korea penalty corner was given in the 67th minute where the play went back to the insert but Bing was there to make the glove save. Korea did not stop knocking as a second chance came off a corner and Hyejin Cho was there to put it in and cut the lead to USA 3, KOR 2. The game would finish with that result as both teams fought hard until the very end.

"We fought hard and took the battle to them," added Schopman. "I was very happy how we bounced back. It is always hard if you concede an early goal and we ended up taking control of the game. They are a tricky team and we weren't at our best but we did work very hard. You don't always play well but the trick is to stay in the game and work really hard and get a result."

The U-21 USWNT has the next two days off but will return to action on Wednesday, November 30 in the Quarterfinals. Team USA will face Pan American rivals and familiar opponent Argentina, winners of Pool B. Game time is to be determined.

"We know Argentina and we know we can play them, but we also know that they are a very good team," commented Schopman. "If there is one thing that I want, it is that we come out and play and we play our best hockey and see where it gets us. Today's game helped us establish what we need to change. It was tough but I know we can hang in there and hang on. I hope against Argentina we just play to our potential."

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Goal scorer Erin Matson's post-game interview with the Pan American Hockey Federation.
Video Courtesy of PAHF