LIMA, Peru - July 27, 2019 - New faces, same mission, one journey. In two days time the U.S. Women's National Team will play their opening match of the 2019 Pan American Games (PAG). The opening whistle will signal a team that is not only looking to defend its back-to-back Pan American gold medals but one that aims to return to the Summer Olympic Games. Here's how USA stacks up against immediate competition through the first few days of pool play.
No. 30 Mexico
USA and Mexico will wrap up the opening day of women's field hockey on Monday, July 29. Mexico qualified for Lima by placing second in the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) in Barranquilla, Columbia. The last time these two teams played each other was in similar fashion in their opening match of the 2017 women's Pan American Cup (PAC) in Lancaster, Pa. In that game USA used two goals in the first quarter to boost to a 6-0 victory in front of the home crowd. Five of those scores were registered on penalty corners as Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.) led the way with three goals. Mexico meanwhile has shown moments of improvement in two years despite dropping in the most recent FIH World Rankings as they look to finish higher than their sixth place performance in the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. A top seed out of pool play in the CAC Games was highlighted offensively by Michel Novarro and Arlette Estrada. The team also competed in the FIH Series Finals last month in Hiroshima, Japan placing seventh and did not register a goal in three games.
No. 15 Chile
The key matchup in pool play for USA also marks a chip on the red, white and blue's shoulders against Chile. While they competed against Chile in a test-series in Lancaster, Pa. in 2018, USA has revenge on their minds dating back to the 2017 PAC. In the semifinals of the tournament, back and forth play saw the squads match each other up and down the pitch as the score stood at 3-3 in the final quarter. A last-minute goal by Chile's Denise Krimerman gave the opposition a 4-3 victory to head in to the gold medal game and sent USA to the bronze medal match on home turf. As such, Chile also punched their ticket to Lima as an eventual medalist. More recently, USA won two and tied twice in the teams' four-game test series in Lancaster last April. Overall the USWNT scored fourteen goals to Chile's four. The latter also just returned from the FIH Series Finals in Hiroshima, Japan where the squad finished third. A 2-0-1 record and goal differential advantage gave the team second place in their pool heading in to crossovers. From there, Chile topped Uruguay 5-2, with four goals tallied by Carolina Garcia, before heading to the semifinals against India. The team's fortunes turned as India prevailed 4-2, sending Chile to the third-place game and just missing out on clinching an Olympic Qualifying spot as one of the top-two teams of the tournament. Chile rebounded for the bronze medal after a thrilling shootout victory versus Russia after giving up a 3-1 lead in the second half.
No. 38 Peru
As the host nation, Peru gained automatic placement in the Pan American Games but has never played the USWNT. The team most recently competed in the 2018 South American Games in Cochabamba, Bolivia where they finished seventh. Their opening match was a 0-21 loss to fellow Pan American Games participant, Argentina. Peru finished with two losses in pool play before ultimately losing 1-4 to Paraguay in their final game. They will look to make an immediate statement when the Games begin in front of the home crowd.
Team USA is ready in Lima with a gold medal and automatic qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on the line. With that, fans and followers can join the conversation and follow along with additional story lines with the hashtag #AllEyesOnLima on social media and usafieldhockey.com. Check back weekly for more stories around USMNT and USWNT athletes, umpires, venue, history and more as the Pan American Games excitement heats up.
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