LONDON, England - July 25, 2018 - 10,600 fans. That is how many spectators came out to the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre to watch the U.S. Women’s National Team take on FIH World Ranked No. 2 England in their second pool game of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup. Scoreless after the first half, it was England who got on the scoreboard first off a backhand into the corner but USA equalized in similar fashion five minutes later as a thrilling match finished in a 1-1 draw.
“Going against England, I would say they are a similar style as us,” said Melissa Gonzalez, USWNT Captain, when asked about the game plan heading into this match. “They are very quick, gritty and attack forward, so we had to keep their fast players in front of us and work as a unit.”
The opening minutes saw USA put a lot of pressure on England, pinning them into their defensive end. As both teams looked to generate a flow, it was USA who earned the first penalty corner of the game in the 11th minute. The chance came when Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) made a hard run up the right side, drove into the circle and on a follow-up touched the ball on an England defender’s foot. Off the top, the ball was swept down to inserter Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) who’s deflection went into England goalkeeper Maddie Hinch. USA followed up and M. Vittese had another chance before England cleared it away. The first quarter concluded deadlocked at zeroes.
Early in the second quarter, England picked up the energy and earned themselves a penalty corner but found no result. This momentum shifted to England as they penetrated their attacking circle a few more times before earning a second penalty corner. A thrilling set as the initial sweep was blocked by flyer Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.J.) but the second chance was deflected high and out of mid-air Susannah Townsend tipped it high off the post. USA had a final sequence up field, but the halftime score remained tied, 0-0.
Starting the third quarter similar to the second, England earned a penalty corner but had no outcome. England kept possession and just a minute later in the 34th minute, Alex Danson weaved through USA’s defense to place a backhand into the corner and give them a 0-1 lead. This fueled a tempo change for USA and moments later a close chance came when Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) sent a ball toward the circle that was deflected by Matson and landed on Margaux Paolino’s (Villanova, Pa.) stick. Paolino passed it back to Matson who had a good look but no result. USA continued to work hard and in the 39th minute a strong midfield run by Gonzalez drew the England defense before she released it into space on her left to Matson up ahead.Matson ran it into the circle and put a backhand shot in to tie the game, 1-1. As England continued to threaten, USA produced great team defense to shut down their chances.
The final fifteen minutes were exhilarating as it came down to any team’s game for the taking. Five minutes in to the fourth quarter the stadium cheered in excitement as England found themselves in a 3v2 advantage toward goal but USA goalkeeper Jackie Briggs (Robesonia, Pa.) came out and made the stop. USA didn’t fall back and kept up their own offensive pressure searching for any kind of positive outcome. As time ticked away the competition grew even more intense. A few looks came for both teams and a very close chance in the final minute when USA earned a penalty corner. Unfortunately, a miscue on the top turned into a fast break for England but the final score finished in a 1-1 tie.
“I said before the match to the girls about the crowd, that these are the kind of games and moments in your life that are very limited,” commented Gonzalez, on the energy from the stadium. “This is what you play for as an athlete. You can take those nerves and excitement and use them as fuel. I think it was really electric.”
The U.S. Women’s National Team will play No. 10 India in their final pool game on Sunday, July 29 at 12:00 p.m. ET. India went head-to-head with Ireland on Thursday, but it was the Green Army who would score the lone goal for the 1-0 victory.
|Pool B Result|
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