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LIMA, Peru - July 29, 2019 - An overcast sky at the Villa María del Triunfo complex saw the No. 13 U.S. Women's National Team take on No. 30 Mexico in their opening pool play game of the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. USA saw multiple scoring opportunities early but were unable to convert until late in the second quarter. After the first goal, the red, white and blue went on a scoring-spree in the second half with no answer from Mexico. USA produced a dominant first game as they went on to win 5-0.
The first quarter began as USA fought to create chances in Mexico's circle. From the top, Alyssa Manley (Lititz, Pa.) pushed the ball on goal with the hopes that a teammate could finish but Mexico goalkeeper Jesus Castillo was able to anticipate the tip in time to meet Lauren Moyer (York, Pa.) and block her shot. A few minutes later, Moyer carried the ball into the circle and passed it onto Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.) who managed to find a Mexico foot to earn the first penalty corner of the game. Sharkey took the straight shot, but the Mexico defense stopped the ball before USA could convert. A second penalty corner for USA was awarded to Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) following a series of passes that found her deep by Castillo. This attempt saw Ali Froede's (Burke, Va.) sweep get deflected just over the goal. USA threatened a minute later as Froede swept the ball through traffic to Matson who sent a lifted backhand into Castillo’s chest. Castillo handled the rebound well, clearing it off the end line. With under two minutes remaining, Sharkey started a sequence of more scoring opportunities after earning an initial penalty corner that resulted in four consecutive. A final penalty corner for USA with time expired closed the first quarter with no goal as a result. Although USA saw many chances to capitalize, the game remained scoreless.
The second quarter saw an increase in the tempo for USA as they wasted no time bringing the ball into Mexico's circle. The opposition brought pressure of their own, earning their first penalty corner just one minute into the frame. Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.J.) rushed the shot but was hit in the shin, resulting in a second chance. The drag flick off the second penalty corner by Michel Navarro was easily stopped by USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Tx.) and cleared out by Caitlin Van Sickle (Wilmington, De.). Mexico continued to clog up their defensive end, making it difficult for USA to enter the circle, and their added pressure helped earn their third penalty corner. Navarro faked a shot and passed the ball left to Jenifer Valdes who one-timed it right into Bing. Julia Young (Yorktown, Va.) cleared the ball over the sideline to end the threat. USA turned up the intensity, finally putting a goal on the board with four minutes remaining. The opening score came off a penalty corner that Sharkey slipped to Froede who swept it to Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.) who deflected it in at the stroke mark. USA did not rest, seeing several more scoring opportunities in the final minutes of the quarter but no result. USA led by one goal over Mexico going into the halftime break.
As the second half of the match got underway, USA kept the pressure on Mexico’s defense. On a possession by Manley, she passed the ball the Magadan who found a Mexico foot by the baseline. The penalty corner awarded was taken by Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.), who dragged the ball just within the reach of Castillo for the save. Not even a minute later, another series of back-to-back penalty corners were earned to USA. The final penalty corner in the 34th minute led to a second goal for USA after Sharkey sent it wide off the right post and it was tipped in by Magadan. USA continued to push forward, where a shift in possession from the left to right found Anna Dessoye (Mountaintop, Pa.) who pushed it toward goal. A scramble ensued as the ball came off Castillo and it was batted in by Moyer to give USA a 3-0 lead. USA used the scoring momentum to earn their thirteenth penalty corner, which lead to their fourth goal as inserter Matson lofted the ball over Castillo on the rebound. With five minutes to go in the third quarter, a USA long corner was taken quickly and as Moyer attempted to receive it in the circle she was pushed hard from behind and a penalty stroke called. Hoffman stepped up and successfully buried the stroke into the left corner and past Castillo to make it 5-0. Mexico looked to answer with a three last-minute penalty corners as time ran out but could not get past the USA defense.
The final quarter of action saw Mexico try to get on the scoreboard with no success as they were met by USA’s strong defensive sticks. The teams took turns attacking each other’s circles, but many of the opportunities went over the end line before the ball could be received. With five minutes left in the match, USA's attack worked the ball into the circle, and Sharkey collected it, turned and shot but the ball barely grazedCastillo’s glove as it deflected out. USA continued to push as Margaux Paolino (Villanova, Pa.) on a great reception managed a backhand shot that was saved off the kicker of Castillo. The final quarter went goalless for both teams, making the final score USA 5, Mexico 0.
For their next match of the 2019 Pan American Games, the U.S. Women’s National Team will face No. 15 Chile on Wednesday, July 31 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Tomorrow, the U.S. Men's National Team will take on hosts Peru at 5:00 p.m. ET.
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 often for more stories around USMNT and USWNT athletes, umpires, venue, history and more as the Pan American Games get underway.
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