BISHAM, England - April 16, 2017 - The U.S. U-21 Women's National Team fought back from a goal deficit in the final minutes of play to earn an important draw against England, setting the stage for the final day of competition.
“We were more threatening today," said Nicole Woods (Beverly, Mass), U-21 USWNT Captain. "We made it hectic for our opponent. We put them under pressure. Late in the game, fitness became a factor, and we had enough in the tank to continue pushing forward.”
The opening quarter of the match was marked by high energy and intensity. Team USA ran deep behind England's defensive line, whilst using small, quick midfield combinations to maneuver down the field. England took advantage of USA's inability to convert their chances, and opened the scoring on a quick counter attack down the center of the field midway through the second period.
USA responded well delivering a powerful counter-strike on skillful combination by Ryan McCarthy (Madison, N.J.) and Woods. McCarthy won the ball at the 35 yard line tracked with speed at the lone England defender before dishing to Woods who buried a backhand shot into the goal to make it USA 1, England 1.
The U-21 USWNT held the momentum early in the third, sustaining pressure on England's backline. Unable to convert their chances once again, momentum swung to England's favor who took the lead late in the third on a well-executed penalty corner tip.
Both teams brought the fire in the fourth quarter, trading hard tackles and scoring chances. A defensive goal-line save from Skyler Fretz (Oley, Pa.) kept the USA in the contest, and Gab Major (Royersford, Pa.) equalized late in the game. Major rebounded the initial shot, pulled wide right to beat the extended England's goalkeeper and finished with poise.
The USA defense held steady in the closing minutes, and nearly won on a last second breakaway that was well-defended by England's goalkeeper.
Again, USA took the victory in the shootouts by a score of 3-2. Goals came from Woods, Carrie Hanks (Niskayuna, N.Y.), and Julianna Tornetta (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.).
With a win tomorrow, the U-21 USWNT can win the series.
“We are ready for the next game," commented Woods. "We’ve learned a lot through the first three matches. That growth gives us the confidence to push forward yet again."
“Overall I am pleased with our performance,” said Phil Edwards, U-21 USWNT Head Coach. “We took another step forward today. Played at a higher tempo, created more opportunity and maintained a more consistent defensive structure.”USA look to take another step forward as they wrap up the series tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. local time. Stay tuned to usafieldhockey.com for more information on the U-21 USWNT's tour and matches against England.