ANTWERP, Belgium - In their second FIH Hockey Pro League meeting, the No. 15 U.S. Women’s National Team was met by a strong scoring performance from No. 12 Belgium. Six goals across the second and third quarters propelled the Red Panthers over USA, 1-6.
Belgium’s offense wasted no time and threatened in the second minute of play. Ambre Ballenghien managed a low angle shot but USA goalkeeper Kealsie Robles made the save. For a period of time, possession was shared as both sides worked to positively progress forward. In the 10th minute, Kelsey Briddell (Gansevoort, N.Y.) sent a long ball through to Lauren Moyer (York, Pa.) in the circle. Moyer earned USA a penalty corner and off the chance Laura Hurff’s (Newark, Del.) drag was saved off the line by Belgium’s Helene Brasseur to keep the game scoreless. Within a minute, the Red Panthers responded with a penalty corner of their own as Robles saved the initial drag and follow up shot. The first quarter ended deadlocked, 0-0.
The home team dominated in the second quarter, tallying three goals to claim the lead. The first came just 22 seconds into the frame when a long ball from Charlotte Englebert was deflected behind the body of Ballenghien into the bottom left corner. The next was in the 22nd minute on a penalty corner, after two blocked shots, a second chance from Stephanie Vanden Borre was swept into the bottom corner and less than a minute later Shaunda Ikegwuonu got a reverse deflection on a long ball from Englebert. USA managed a penalty corner in the 19th minute where a drag from Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) was saved off the glove of Belgium goalkeeper Elodie Picard.
Belgium continued their scoring momentum to add another three goals in first five minutes of the third quarter. The first came one minute in when Ballenghien got in and behind to deflect in her second of the game. Next off a penalty corner, following the initial shot that was stopped by USA’s defense, Vanden Borre used a backhand to extend the lead. To make it 0-6, Lucie Breyne touched a long ball from Vanden Borre. Hurff created a close chance for USA when her hard sweep went off the post, hit the back of the arm of Belgium goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooghe and went over the end line.
The fourth quarter saw more scoring chances for USA. In the opening minute, Julianna Tornetta (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) touched it over to Linnea Gonzales (Bel Air, Md.) who sent an upright backhand just wide of the goal. Belgium saw a few close opportunities, even a failed conversion on a penalty stroke that was saved by USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas), before the red, white and blue generated attack. In the 54th minute after a flurry of shots by Moyer and Madison Maguire (Rumson, N.J.), USA earned a penalty corner. Although the chance was broken, Tornetta maintained possession, passed it through to Alyssa Parker (Woodbine, Md.) who sent a slightly lifted ball across the goal mouth where Gonzales finished into the net. USA continued to push forward but the final horn sounded with the 1-6 score line.
“It doesn’t feel great,” said Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.J.), USWNT Captain. “It was our second match back in international hockey, and there are a lot of things we need to work on, like maintaining possession of the ball, filling out [defensive] gaps and finding those connections.”
Following the game, Belgium’s midfielder Charlotte Englebert was named Player of the Match for generating and contributing on a handful of the Red Panther’s goals.
Today’s contest a marked career milestone for USA athlete Julianna Tornetta (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) who earned her first international cap.
The U.S. Women’s National Team will travel to London, England to take on No. 5 Great Britain in two contests next weekend on Saturday, May 22 and Sunday, May 23 at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. For more information, visit the FIH Hockey Pro League event page.
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