Schopman Records First Win as USWNT Head Coach on Home Turf, Gonzalez Receives 200th Cap

May 24, 2017, 1:18 p.m. (ET)

LANCASTER, Pa. – May 24, 2017 – Fans gathered at the Home of Hockey at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa. to watch the U.S. Women’s National Team for their first home competition since the Rio Send-Off Series in late July of 2016. Almost a full year later, much has changed. Today, during the Citi U.S. Women’s National Team vs Ireland Series, USA celebrated six first caps of Carissa Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.), Julia Young (Yorktown, Va.), Amanda Madagan (Randolph, N.J.), Nicole Woods (Beverly, Mass.), Lauren Moyer (York, Pa.) and Erin McCrudden (Putnam Valley, N.Y.) in the wake of six USWNT hockey standouts sharing their retirements since the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In the same moment of commemorating several new members, the red, white and blue applauded two-time Olympian Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) for her 200th cap. This blend of fresh talent with the seasoned experience was able to edge out Ireland with a score 3-1.

“A lot of faces have changed, and I miss those veteran players, but I think the legacy they left is being built upon and it’s exciting to be part of the new USA Field Hockey era,” said Gonzalez. “These new players are excited to learn and be top notch, and I can’t wait to see where their careers go.” 

Eager to change the storyline of the 2015 international series between the two opponents where USA swept the event with three victories, Ireland presented USA with challenging forward movement. In the first 15 minutes with two corner attempts a piece, neither Team USA nor Ireland could capitalize on the attempts. In the 8th minute of play, Ireland’s forward line pressured the USA defense to force an illegal reach resulting in a stroke. Ireland’s attempt dinged the low left post to keep the team scoreless. Their steadfast attack prevailed in the 9th minute of play when Ireland's Emily Beatty scooped up a loose ball from a broken play to convert at close range for a score of USA 0, Ireland 1.

In the second quarter, Team USA’s offense charged into their attack 25-yard line with stick-to-stick passing. Rapid shots were fired on target including a potential threatening ball from Kat Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.). Before Sharkey could strike, Yvonne O’Byrne toppled her to the ground giving way to stroke opportunity for the USA. Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) stepped up at the stroke mark where she lifted a ball into the mesh in the 17th minute to nab an equalizer.   

Two minutes later off of a penalty corner opportunity, freshly 200th capped Gonzalez's straight strike from the top of the circle is deflected by Jill Witmer (Lancaster, Pa.) crossed the goal line to push USA up on the scoreboard 2-1. As a reliable, consistent contributor, Gonzalez has grown into a true leader for Team USA.

“Reaching 200 caps incites some panic because it reminds me I’m getting older, however people say I look a lot younger than I am; so I have that going for me,” Gonzalez kids. “In all seriousness, I would like to thank the coaches and all of the people behind the scenes that got me this far. A lot of people put faith in me. I’m just incredibly grateful.”

Although nerves were present as six new athletes tested out the senior international scene for the first time, USWNT Head Coach also explored new terrain – her first home match as the lead of Team USA.

“I do get nervous at times for games, the same as I was as player, and I know that’s just part of who I am and what happens,” said Schopman. “There’s a little more pressure playing in front of a home crowd. The eyes are on you and everyone is following you more closely. It doesn’t affect me much as a coach. I believe firmly in my team and we can play well which you saw today. There are a lot of new players and we all were nervous as seen by the highs and lows during the match. The experienced players helped the team get up and over. The younger player joined in the game and I was happy to see them going for it.”

In the 56th minute, a sharp blow from the top of the circle was buried into the bottom right corner of the cage by newcomer Young to develop a final score of 3-1.

The USWNT is back on the pitch against Ireland Friday, May 26 at 6:30 p.m. EST at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa.

For more information on the event including schedule, results, tickets and live stream, visit the Citi U.S. Women’s National Team vs Ireland event page on usafieldhockey.com.