BISHAM, England - April 13, 2017 - In the first match of a four game test series, the U.S. U-21 Women's National Team fell to England's U-21 Team by a score of 3-1. The game proved a competitive and physical battle for the newly assembled U-21 USWNT.
"Although it was disappointing not to get a result, it was a promising start for our group," commented Phil Edwards, U-21 USWNT Head Coach, on the team's performance. "It provides us with a 'line in the sand' to grow and develop from."
The opening quarter was marked by solid defensive performances from both sides. Team USA's best attacking chance came off a quick counter-attack break from Corinne Zanolli (Newtown Square, Pa.), who was unable to convert a 1v1 against England's goalkeeper.
Midway through the second quarter, after a period of steady pressure on the American defense, England opened the scoring on a penalty corner rebound. Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) saved the initial shot yet the rebound fell long to an England attacker who swept the ball into the roof of the goal. A battle in the midfield ensued. The U-21 USWNT steadily increased pressure on England's outlet, and as a result momentum began to shift to Team USA's side toward the end of the half.
In the third quarter, Carrie Hanks (Niskayuna, N.Y.) put the U-21 USWNT on the board with a well-struck penalty corner shot.
“Initially, I was unsure if the ball had crossed the line," added Hanks. "When I realized it did, I knew it was an important equalizer."
Though the goal gave the USA a momentary boost of energy, England answered late in the third quarter with another penalty corner rebound goal, and again early in the fourth on a penalty corner to solidify the win.
Following regulation, the teams competed in a penalty shootout. Led by an impressive goalkeeping performance from Jenny Rizzo (Hershey, Pa.), Team USA came away with a decisive 3-0 shootout victory.
“This gives our team a lot to sink our teeth into,” commented Edwards.
"It is important for us to continue to develop our connection, the ability to communicate and merge different styles of play," added Hanks. "We are in the process of defining who were are, and how we play. We are focused on our strengths.”
As a veteran on the U-21 USWNT, Hanks continued, “My role is to be a composed, calming presence in the back field that positions others for success, and gives us the energy to go forward.”
Going forward is exactly what the U.S. U-21 Women's National Team will do as they meet England tomorrow at 4 p.m. local time for a rematch. Stay tuned to usafieldhockey.com for more information on the U-21 USWNT's tour and matches against England.