U-21 USWNT Withstood Argentina's Attack in Final Game of Test Series

June 17, 2018, 8:15 p.m. (ET)

TUCUMAN, Argentina – June 17, 2018 – In their final match of the three-game series, the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team battled Argentina’s U-21 squad at the Gymnastics and Swimming Club in Tucuman, Argentina. What started as a dominant ball control performance by Argentina was met by a ‘never give up’ attitude by the U-21 USWNT. Los Leoncitas earned an impressive 15 penalty corners, but USA withstood the attack to only fall to the host nation 2-1 in the 53rd minute.

"Today was a really positive step forward for the group which continued the trend of the tour in general," said Phil Edwards, U-21 USWNT Head Coach. "Overall, it has been a very productive week in Tucuman both on and off the field. It’s been an experience this group will remember for a long time."

From the opening whistle, all play was in favor of Argentina as they quickly put USA on the backfoot and earned a sequence of penalty corners. The first attempt was slipped, and the shot was saved on the post by Cassie Sumfest (Lewisburg, Pa.) but resulted in another Argentina penalty corner. Try two was buried into the corner of the goal by Sofia Toccalino to give Los Leoncitas a 1-0 advantage. It didn’t take long for USA to quickly transition the ball up the right sideline where Corinne Zanolli (Newtown Square, Pa.) worked it in the circle and pushed it toward goal. The ball went through an approaching Argentina goalkeeper and Kelee Lepage (Honey Brook, Pa.) was there to finish and tie the game. Argentina resumed their threatening attack with another penalty corner, where even though the backhand shot went in, it was disallowed for being too high.

The eagerness to score was present for both teams at the start of the second quarter. Argentina earned their seventh penalty corner but on the effort, flyer Brooke Deberdine (Millersville, Pa.) got a stick on the shot to disrupt the play. In turn, USA moved control to the other end where they earned their first penalty corner, but the call was reversed giving possession back to Los Leoncitas. This fueled a few close chances for Argentina, but USA’s defense withstood the attack. A spark for the U-21 USWNT came when Sophia Tornetta (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) used crafty skills in the left corner to break into the circle. Back-to-back penalty corners were given to Argentina but USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) and the defensive unit made the blocks. USA earned their first true penalty corner when Deberdine worked it into the circle. Off the attempt, a rocket of a drag by Kelsey Ballard’s (Charlottesville, Va.) went off the post and landed with Laura Hurff (Newark, Del.) on the follow up but she was unable to connect. Argentina finished with a close chance at the end of the quarter, but the halftime score stood 1-1.

The third quarter started with control to Argentina as they patiently worked it into their attacking 25-yards. USA shifted their game plan and sat in a half-field press to absorb the threatening offense. A close chance came for USA when Hurff passed it up field to Zanolli who was shut down just outside the circle. The U-21 USWNT regained possession but was unable to generate any attack. The other way, Argentina kept knocking at the door with a series of shots and three more penalty corner opportunities. On the first attempt, Deberdine again got a stick on the shot to deflect it away. Bing was very active on the second try and after making the initial save, recovered to make another. The last effort was an Argentina drag that was saved by a diving Bing, keeping the score locked at 1-1.

Argentina continued their attacking momentum to start the fourth quarter as a striker got a backhand shot off that went off Bing’s helmet. USA remained in the half-field press shutting down the forward channels and challenging the ball. Midway through the frame, Argentina earned their fourteenth penalty corner which was perfectly executed when the drag from the top was send down to the right and deflected into the net by Milagros Fernández Ladra to make it 2-1 to Argentina. USA had some chances of hope using plays into the pockets to work it up field but struggled connect in the final 25-yards. With Argentina on the hunt to extend their lead, the horn sounded as the final score was USA 1, Argentina 2.

Members of the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team will compete next week at the Young Women’s National Championship from June 25-29 in Lancaster, Pa. Stay up to date with all things regarding the U-21 USWNT by visiting usafieldhockey.com.