USA Field Hockey NEWS Dominant Scoring Per...

Dominant Scoring Performance Leads The Netherlands Over USWNT in First FIH Hockey Pro League Game

Jan. 26, 2020, 5:16 p.m. (ET)

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – January 26, 2020 – It was a gorgeous day at Karen Shelton Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. as the No. 13 U.S. Women’s National Team played their first FIH Hockey Pro League match of the 2020 season against No. 1 The Netherlands. With emotions high, as the match was dedicated to Larry Amar, USA couldn’t overcome the dominant scoring performance of the Oranje as the red, white and blue fell 9-0.

USA started the game on the front foot, keeping possession in the left corner but were unable to successfully penetrate the circle. The Netherlands wasted no time to capitalize on quick passing by working the ball into their attacking end. In the 6th minute, forward movement started when Xan de Waard touched it around a USA defender and got to the top of the circle and passed it left to Frederique Matla. She sent a perfect ball off the right post to a diving Felice Albers. It looked like the Oranje were going to extend their lead moments after the restart by earning a penalty corner but Matla’s attempt went wide. USA had a close chance when Linnea Gonzales (Bel Air, Md.) picked off The Netherlands in the midfield and threaded it forward to Madison Maguire (Rumson, N.J.). She beat her defender, but her pass was intercepted. The first quarter concluded with the Oranje holding a 1-0 lead.

The second frame started with the Oranje moving quickly into their offensive end. USA goalkeeper Kealsie Robles (Yorktown, Va.) was tested a few times by some shots and she also stepped up to make some critical clears. In the 23rd minute, Lidewij Welten got inside the circle, pushed it toward goal and Matla touched it past Robles for The Netherlands’ second goal. The red, white and blue kept pushing forward any open chance. Alyssa Parker (Woodbine, Md.) fought through a tackle and passed it ahead to Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.) who passed it on to Gonzales whose backhand shot went high and wide. The Oranje maintained possession in the final few minutes, tallying three more shots and two penalty corners, but USA goalkeeper Robles and the defensive unit kept the score at 2-0.

From the third quarter starting whistle, the Oranje immediately took it into their attacking circle and tested Robles, forcing her to make a diving clear. As play developed, The Netherlands held the advantage with shots coming from Albers, Laurien Leurink, Maria Verschoor and Welten. In the 40th minute, following a disallowed goal, a long ball into the circle by Matla found Welten who turned and finished into the net. Off the restart, USA worked it into their offensive circle and earned back-to-back penalty corners. The first attempt was a straight shot by Gonzales that was saved by the Oranje’s goalkeeper Anne Veenendaal. The second was a sweep from Carrie Hanks (Niskayuna, N.Y.) that went off the flyer but she recovered and sent a hard shot toward goal. With two minutes remaining in the quarter, The Netherlands extended their lead to 4-0 after Matla dribbled forward and passed it left to Albers who sent a hard backhand into the corner of the goal.

The Netherlands continued to show scoring dominance in the fourth quarter, adding another five to the scoreboard. The fifth goal came off a textbook penalty corner conversion where a drag by Matla was sent down to Welten who deflected it into the net. Next, again off a penalty corner, a slip behind sweep was saved by Robles but the rebound fell to The Netherlands and was crossed and batted out of the air by Albers. Welten grabbed her third of the game on the seventh goal and Ginella Zerbo added her name to the scoresheet on the eighth. The Oranje rounded out the scoring in the 59th minute on a one-time hit from Maria Verschoor. The final score was in favor of the Oranje, 9-0.

"I think because we are so young we may lack the experience of the speed of the game," said Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.), USWNT defender, following the game. "If we can keep transferring the ball faster, I think that was a challenge for us this game, also tracking our players, they would run in behind, and we were a little slow in transition. So if we just work on those challenges of the game, there is always room for improvement."

"We need to work on our press so we go all together," continued Hoffman, talking about looking to their next match. "If a forward goes, we need to back her up in behind and I think if we do that we can get some of those 50/50 balls."

Following the game, The Netherlands’ Felice Albers was named Player of the Match for opening the scoring in the match on her way to recording a hat trick.

Today’s contest marked career milestones for three USA athletes as Carrie Hanks (Niskayuna, N.Y.), Kelee Lepage (Honeybrook, Pa.) and Maguire all played in their first international cap.

Also in today’s match, the USWNT, The Netherlands and officials wore black wristbands to honor Larry Amar, who passed away earlier this week. There was a joint moment of silence prior to the start as all joined together to honor a man truly dedicated to the sport. Please consider making a donation to support the Larry Amar Family Fund.

The U.S. Women’s National Team will travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina for their first away tour of the FIH Hockey Pro League to take on No. 3 Argentina on Friday, February 7 and Saturday, February 8. For more information, check out the FIH Hockey Pro League event page by clicking here.

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