SANTIAGO, Chile - November 30, 2016 - After completing pool play with two wins and one loss and finishing 2nd in Pool A, the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team went head-to-head with Pan American rival and familiar foe Argentina in the women’s Hockey Junior World Cup quarterfinals. The energy exerted from both teams never dulled during the match and after 70 minutes of hard-fought play Argentina came out on top and defeat the USA by a score of 2-0.
“If I look at it from a perspective of learning and growing, 6 months ago we played them in the Junior Pan Am final and lost 6-0,” said Janneke Schopman, U-21 USWNT Head Coach. “Today the score was 2-0. We played with a lot more confidence and a lot more grit in this game.”
Play started fast and physical with the umpire’s opening whistle. The first five minutes saw a few connecting plays for both teams with the majority of it coming in the middle of the field. Argentina showed promise in the 6th minute when they penetrated USA’s defensive circle but captain Julia Young (Yorktown, Va.) was there to clean up the play. Stringing passes together, USA worked the momentum the other way using quick transfers through the midfield.
Off a turnover in the midfield, an Argentine player took possession quickly and fired a shot on goal. USA’s goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) made the glove save but the ball cleared onto a USA’s foot giving Argentina its first penalty corner. USA’s defensive unit held strong and blocked the chance while quickly transitioning possession to the other end. Argentina regained the ball and with speed took it down the middle of the field and earned another penalty corner. Quick off the line, flyer Laura Hurff (Newark, Del.) blocked the shot and Young cleared it out of danger.
Another close opportunity came for Argentina when the ball was taken with speed and a backhand shot was saved by Bing. Team USA's defense held strong under the persistent pressure, a theme that would be present throughout the entire match.
In the 23rd minute, USA earned its first circle penetration with no result. Argentina transitioned play to the opposite end getting multiple shots off on goal. Back-to-back penalty corners were given to Argentina but again being quick off the line, Hurff blocked the drag attempt and the strong defense cleared the chance. In the 32nd minute Argentina earned another penalty corner and this time be successful as Bianca Donati scored from the top making it USA 0, Argentina 1. This would be the score heading into halftime as both teams vigorously fought for the remaining minutes.
Looking to find the equalizer in the second half, USA took the possession forward with speed. A few connecting passes got it into Argentina’s defensive circle but no result was earned. Continuing to threaten forward, Julianna Tornetta (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) got a backhand attempt off but Argentina’s goalkeeper make the save.
The play rapidly transitioned to the opposite end of the field, where Argentina got a backhand shot off of their own but Bing make the glove save and sent the ball over the goal. Possession maintained with Argentina as several circle penetrations and shot attempts came, looking to extend the lead. Argentina earned a penalty corner chance but for the third time in the match Hurff blocked the initial shot off the fly and USA’s defense remained solid to regain possession. The play quickly fell back to Argentina where they earned another penalty corner and though the drag to deflect attempt went wide they kept possession. Extending the lead, Argentina’s Lucina von der Heyde drove hard into the right side of the circle and got a hard shot off that would find the corner of the goal to make it USA 0, ARG 2 in the 49th minute.
As action returned to Argentina’s attacking end, Bing came up big with back-to-back saves to deny the multiple shot attempts. Continuing to show resilience in their defensive circle, USA gained possession and took play the other way. In the 57th minute, USA earned its first penalty corner of the match. Off the first attempt the shot hit an Argentine foot so a second was awarded but on that chance there was no result.
For a hard tackle, Argentina’s Barbara Dichiara Gentili earned a green card giving USA a player up advantage. This didn’t dull Argentina’s attack as they kept threatening forward with speed testing USA’s defense. Being persistent on defense, USA gained possession and work it out and around. While USA pushed the ball forward, an Argentine player fouled the play hard outside the circle and the call got upgraded to a penalty corner. As time wound down, both teams fought hard to try and change the score mark. When the final buzzer rang the score stood at USA 0, Argentina 2.
“They (Argentina) had a really nice goal but I thought our team was playing really well,” said Hurff. “We played together and we stuck it out the whole time. We were aggressive and I am really proud of my team today.”
The U-21 USWNT will have off tomorrow as the 9th-16th place consolation round plays. Team USA will be back in action Friday, December 2 playing Belgium at 11:15 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 usafieldhockey.com. #SQUAD #HJWC2016 #RockTheJuniors
Laura Hurff's post-game interview with the Pan American Hockey Federation.
Video courtesy of PAHF
Janneke Schopman's post-game interview with the Pan American Hockey Federation
Video courtesy of PAHF