COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - October 4, 2019 – The days are ticking down until the No. 13 U.S. Women’s National Team's last chance to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. They are set to match-up against No. 9 India in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier from November 1 to 2. As the team prepares state-side for the two-game series at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India, the red, white and blue’s Road to Tokyo has been in progress for more than two years.
The USWNT’s first step in the Olympic Qualifying process goes back to 2017 at the women’s Pan American Cup in Lancaster, Pa. After claiming the bronze medal in the international event, USA qualified for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, along with Canada and Argentina. On the line in Lima was a direct qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for the nation that claimed the gold medal. USA entered the continental championship on full drive as back-to-back defending champions in the 2011 and 2015 editions. In 2019, USA finished first in Pool B with a 3-0-0 record and outscored their opposition 17 to 2, setting up a meeting with Cuba in the quarterfinals. In that match-up, seven different USWNT athletes registered goals en route to a 9-0 victory.
USA faced North American foe Canada in the semifinals and the Wolfpack pushed out to an early lead off a successful penalty corner conversion in the 10th minute. Canada produced another goal shortly into the third quarter and snuffed out a late-first half momentum surge by USA as Canada claimed a 2-0 victory. The loss sent USA to the bronze medal game, where despite a win over Chile, derailed USA’s hope of directly qualifying for Tokyo with a first place finish in Lima.
This left USA with one more possible chance to punch their ticket to the Olympic Games: win the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier. As one of the top-ranked nations, USA was one of 14 women’s teams that did not directly qualify for Tokyo and were drawn to play in a two-game series against another squad. Based on FIH World Rankings following all continental championships, USA was placed in a pot of away teams alongside Belgium, Canada and Korea. They were drawn against host nations China, Ireland, India and Spain.
From here, the procedure is simple: the team with the highest aggregated goal score at the end of two, 60-minute matches will have their Olympic dreams fulfilled, while the loser goes home to wait another four years.
With an extensive history the past few years between the two sides, USA and India are preparing for one of the biggest contests in recent memory. The two teams will play on Friday, November 1 and Saturday, November 2 to see who qualifies for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. All FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers can be live streamed on fih.live.
For more information regarding the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, check out the official event page by clicking here.