MELBOURNE, Australia – November 11, 2017 – It was the second matchup in as many days for the FIH Hero World Ranked No. 7 U.S. Women’s National Team against host nation No. 4 Australia in the International Festival of Hockey (IFOH). The Hockeyroos would not be denied in the bronze medal match, as a huge third quarter propelled them past the USWNT by a final of 5-0.
Similar to their first meeting in round robin play, Australia pressed early and often, forcing USA on the defense most of the contest.
Both squads showed conservatism to open the match playing a slower, steadier strategy while in possession, before the pace was broken about five minutes in. From there it was Australia that forced a turnover and shot on net in the fifth minute, where Alesha Widdall (Whitney Point, N.Y.) made the early save. The Hockeyroos were swift in their offensive press, challenging Widdall and USA’s defense multiple times in the opening minutes. On the other end, USA had chances inside the circle while working along both sides of the net, including a charge in front by Casey Di Nardo (Virginia Beach, Va.), but was denied on the goal line. It would be the only shot in the half for the red, white and blue.
USA kept the Australia attack at bay to open the second quarter, but struggled to maintain possession for long. When Australia challenged, the host nation utilized open space between defenders. That strategy nearly prevailed in the 23rd minute in a goalmouth scramble attempt, but the ball ultimately went just wide of the USA goal. Back the other way, Di Nardo’s stick work kept the ball in bounds on the near sideline, keeping the play alive to set up an eventual free hit, but to no avail. With time running down in the half, Australia threatened once again in the 29th minute. A pass by Madi Ratliffe was inadvertently deflected off the stick of Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.J.). As the horn sounded, it was Australia’s tenth shot of the half that proved true.
The Hockeyroos’ late opening score sparked a fleury to open the third quarter with back-to-back scores within 30 seconds of each other. USA got an opportunity to narrow the gap in the 35th minute with the game’s first penalty corner, but the chance sailed wide. Meanwhile, Australia continued their momentum in USA's defensive circle with additional scores in the 38th and 41st minute to make it a 5-0 game. In the final quarter, USA’s opportunities on offense were still scarce as Australia controlled the flow of the match as the clock winded down and the celebrations began.
As the IFOH concluded, the U.S. Women’s National Team now turns their focus to the FIH Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final in Auckland, New Zealand from November 17-26. For more information on the Hockey World League Final, visit the event page by clicking here.