Strong Second Half Scoring Performance Lifts USWNT Over India in Second Match of FIH Hockey World League Semifinals

Images courtesy of Rodrigo Jaramillo and Getty Images/FIH

July 10, 2017, 2:42 p.m. (ET)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – July 10, 2017 – The U.S. Women’s National Team faced FIH Hero World Ranked No. 12 India in their second pool play match of the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals in Johannesburg, South Africa. USA opened the scoring in the second quarter and although India found the equalizer in the third, a strong collective second half scoring performance lifted Team USA over India, 4-1. 

“India is a great opponent,” said Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, NY.), USWNT Captain. “We know every time we play them it will be a full 60-minute battle. Tonight, we were really focused on completing our team tasks and bringing our strengths. I think collectively we have grown from game to game and are hoping to continue to do so as the tournament progresses”

Eager to make their mark early on the game, USA gained control and effectively worked the ball into pockets to build possession forward. Attacking circle penetrations followed and in the 2nd minute of play USA earned their first penalty corner of the game. Although the chance did not translate, USA produced a few more looks on goal. India responded with a close opportunity of their own when a good build up led to a backhand cross that went untouched into the circle. 

Scoreless heading into the second quarter, both teams looked to continue momentum off the first. Patience held key for USA, as they held possession and limited forced turnovers by swinging the ball from sideline to sideline looking for the opportune moment to threaten forward. A collective effort on defense by applying the same patient mentality paid off in the 24th minute when Jill Witmer (Lancaster, Pa.) pressed India’s defense high and stole the ball. Witmer tracked into the circle with speed and ripped a low backhand shot off that hit India goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu’s pads and went in to give USA a 1-0 lead. 

A minute before half time, India hit a hard ball into their attacking circle to an open striker on the post. Looking to find the tying goal, her one-time touch was saved by USA goalkeeper Jackie Briggs’ (Robesonia, Pa.) quick reactions. Halftime score stood at USA 1, India 0.

Carrying over the energy from the first half, USA was quick off the start and grabbed their third penalty corner. The low drag option was saved by India goalkeeper Eimarpu’s pad and deflected off the right post. Working the ball to the other end of the pitch, India used their quick stick skills to enter their attacking 25. A fast restart and sharp ball movement worked the ball into the circle where India’s Lilima Minz was positioned perfectly to find the equalizer and tie the match at 1-1.

Quick to respond, just two minutes later a buildup on the right-hand side found Taylor West (Princess Anne, Md.) who drove the right baseline, dumped the ball across and it was inadvertently tipped in by India’s defense to make it USA 2, India 1. Three minutes after that, USA extended the lead when Witmer added her second goal of the game off a well executed penalty corner deflection.

USA added another tally to the scoreboard, when a sharp give and go pass between Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) and Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) found Vittese at the top of the circle where she finished with a hard shot into the back of the boards to make it USA 4, India 1. The final minutes of the match saw a few more chances for Team USA but they couldn’t add another and the score remained in favor of the red, white and blue.

“It was a good team effort today, said Katelyn Ginolfi (Lewes, Del.), USWNT midfielder. “Even though they were challenging, we focused on ourselves and I am glad we came away with the win.”

With six points from two games, Team USA sits on top of Pool B, and moves closer to securing a quarterfinal position. The U.S. Women’s National Team has the next competition day off and will return to the pitch on Friday, July 14, 2017 at 10 a.m. EST when they will face Pan American rivals Argentina in their third pool play match. For more information on the event including schedule, results and live stream, visit the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals event page on usafieldhockey.com. All USWNT games can be watched on the live broadcast provided by ESPN3/Watch EPSN.