MELBOURNE, Australia - November 9, 2017 - Despite an early lead in the second match of the 2017 International Festival of Hockey (IFOH), the FIH Hero World Ranked No. 7 U.S. Women’s National Team was cut short of victory Thursday night as No. 4 Australia rallied to win 3-2. The Hockeyroos picked up their second win of the tournament after scoring three unanswered goals to wipe away USA’s first half advantage.
The two squads previously faced each other in a friendly test match in Bendigo, Australia, where Australia ultimately prevailed, 2-0.
Both squads had early scoring chances to test each other to open the match. Australia was given the first corner in the 5th minute, forcing a save by Jackie Briggs (Robesonia, Pa.) on the right side. Moments later, the host nation pressed once again with a race to the net but failed to convert. USA responded swiftly back the other way, and in the 8th minute threatened with their first penalty corner of the game. Unlike their opponent, USA executed perfectly on their chance with a strike from Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) who was feed from Michelle Vitesse (Cherry Hill, N.J.) for the 1-0 lead. USA nearly capitalized once again while pressing the Hockeyroos in the circle, but an opportune strike by Anna Dessoye (Mountaintop, Pa.) came up short as she missed the net. In the waning seconds of the first quarter, USA perseverance paid off with a field goal by Casey Di Nardo (Virginia Beach, Va.) to put the red, white and blue up 2-0 at the break.
Although not on the scoreboard yet, Australia tested the USA defense by constantly penetrating the circle as the second quarter progressed. Where Briggs did not step up big time to make saves, Australia consistently sailed the ball just wide of the goal posts. USA meanwhile struggled to force the match offensively until late in the half, when Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.) busted through a lane, but could not capitalize. Sharkey followed up with another scoring opportunity in the final seconds of the half, but was saved by Australia’s goalkeeper as the buzzer sounded.
Still hungry for an opening score, the host nation continued to mount early and often in the third quarter. Following a shot on the end line which hit into the side netting, Australia’s Jane Claxton found the goal off of a rebound save from Briggs to make it 2-1, with USA still holding the advantage. Australia did not let up, and after forcing a turnover in the 38th minute to set up another penalty corner chance, nearly tied the game but the shot sailed wide of the net. USA remained on the defensive side throughout the quarter as Briggs came up big once again on multiple chances by the opposition. A final strike by Australia sailed just over the crossbar as the buzzer sounded to head into the final quarter.
With momentum after the third quarter fleury, Australia appeared to tie the game in the 49th minute, but was ruled that the ball went off the head of Emily Hurtz, keeping the scoreboard in USA’s favor. It would not remain that way for long as a reverse stick finish rolled past Briggs to tie the game in the 51st minute. Moments later, the home crowd would cheer once again after a deflection at close range rolled into the cage in the 53rd minute, giving the advantage to Australia and completing the comeback.
The U.S. Women's National Team will regroup before heading into their third match of IFOH against No. 1 The Netherlands on Friday, November 10 at 10:00 p.m. ET. For more information about the 2017 International Festival of Hockey, including event schedule, results and live stream information, visit the IFOH Event Page by clicking here. #IFOH2017