LANCASTER, Pa. – April 14, 2018 – The U.S. Women's National Team completed the final match of their test series against No. 15 Chile with a 1-1 tie, imitating the first game of the series. Following two stunning goal-scoring performances in the second and third games, USA fought hard down to the final minutes of play but could not capitalize in the attacking circle.
Neither team found the back of the net in the first quarter, but USA held the ball in its attacking end for most of the fifteen minutes. Chile's goalkeeper Claudia Schuler proved to be too sharp against the USWNT's shot attempts. Nicole Woods (Beverly, Mass.) came close as she drove down the baseline toward the goal, but Chile's defense shut down the momentum and cleared the ball away. The seconds wound down as USA found a few more opportunities to capitalize on without a positive result.
USA kept pushing to get on the scoreboard as halfway through the second quarter Jill (Witmer) Funk (Lancaster, Pa.) and Stefanie Fee (Virginia Beach, Va.) teamed up to earn USA their first penalty corner of the night. Chile reciprocated with one of their own, however Amanda Magadan's (Randolph, N.J.) performance as flyer took away any chance of a shot for Chile. Both teams' defenses stood strong against the opposing attack in the first half, making the halftime score, 0-0.
Another penalty corner to start the action of the second half was blocked by goalkeeper Schuler, hitting the Chile flyer. USA requested a video referral looking for another penalty corner attempt saying the ball hit the flyer on the shin guards, but the video was inconclusive resulting in Chile possession. Chile continued to bring the heat, keeping USA on the defensive end as the red white and blue was able to handle the pressure, preventing threats from becoming goals while inside the 25-yard line. The score remained a deadlock heading into the fourth quarter.
"We lacked a bit of craft and a bit of fluidity in the end phase where we could've created a few more [opportunities}," said Janneke Schopman, USWNT Head Coach, of the team's performance.
USA was determined to make something happen and came out strong for the fourth quarter. The first goal of the night was scored off a penalty corner earned by Taylor West (Princess Anne, Md.) at the 53rd minute mark. Caitlin Van Sickle (Wilmington, Del.) inserted, hustled to the post and deflected the straight shot from Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.) into the goal to make it 1-0. Soon after, Chile earned four back-to-back penalty corners in a row, capitalizing on the last opportunity with a straight shot from Denise that tipped off the USA flyer. With one minute to go, Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) was brought face-to-face with Schuler in a penalty stroke situation after Sharkey was tackled from behind on a shot attempt by a Chile defender. Gonzalez's stroke went slightly off angle as the final score stood at 1-1. The four-game series resulted in two ties and two wins for the USWNT.
"Sometimes I say that you have these games and you have to keep doing what you're doing and not necessarily change your game plan, which we didn't,” added Schopman. “Then we did score the one, which was a good corner. Then it's unfortunate that [Chile's goal] was their only danger the entire night. That's great learning for us: why does it happen, why do we allow it to happen in that phase of the game?"
A special noteworthy accomplishment in tonight’s contest was that USWNT athletes Ali Froede (Burke, Va.) and Loren Shealy (Charlotte, N.C.) both played in their 50th international match for Team USA.
(L to R) Loren Shealy, Janneke Schopman, Ali Froede
Also following the completion of the series, Kathleen Sharkey was named ‘Player of the Series’ for her extraordinary effort in each of the games.
(L to R) Bree Gillespie, USA Field Hockey Chair of the Board, and Kathleen Sharkey
Next, the U.S. Women’s National team will travel to Tucuman, Argentina from June 10-17 for a five-game test series against the host country as their final outside preparation before the Vitality Women’s Hockey World Cup in London in July. For more information regarding the USWNT and their upcoming events, continually check usafieldhockey.com.