DEN BOSCH, Netherlands – In their final FIH Hockey Pro League game of the third season, the No. 15 U.S. Women’s National Team met No. 6 Belgium at the HC’s-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands. Scoreless after the first quarter, the Red Panthers scored in each of the resuming frames for the 3-0 victory.
To open the game, both teams produced a circle penetration and each side received an outcome, winning penalty corners. Belgium’s came in the 4th minute after Abi Raye drove the right baseline and planted it on a USA foot. USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) saved the drag as USA immediately countered down field. A minute later, Charlotte de Vries (Malvern, Pa.) won USA a set piece after dribbling in and slightly popping it on a defender’s foot. Off the chance, Ashley Hoffman’s (Mohnton, Pa.) mid-height drag was saved off the body of post player Stephanie Vanden Borre giving USA a penalty stroke. Hoffman stepped up to take it but her attempt was saved by D’Hooghe. Both teams earned one more penalty corner in the frame, but each were saved by their respective goalkeepers to keep the game scoreless.
On the restart, Belgium came out producing two close chances in the opening minute. First, a backhand cross was smothered by Bing and then a scramble in front of Bing’s pads was collected and cleared by a USA defender. In the 20th minute, Hoffman registered a defensive save on a Belgium penalty corner after Bing made the initial stop and Hoffman hit the lifted rebound shot out of the air. USA sat back in a tight defensive structure and maintained Belgium’s attack, but the Red Panthers broke through in the 25th minute when Ambre Ballenghien touched it around her defender and put it into the net. The halftime score stood in favor of Belgium 1-0.
USA started the third quarter an athlete down after Alia Marshall (Rehoboth Beach, Del.) was issued a green card just 45 seconds into the frame. The red, white and blue withstood Belgium’s attack for a period before the Red Panthers extended their lead in the 37th minute. Off a penalty corner, Alix Gerniers was quick to get on a rebound and put it into the net to make it 2-0. Despite being down two athletes for subsequent 5-minute yellow cards issued to Hoffman and Kelee Lepage (Honey Brook, Pa.) in the 39th and 44th minutes, USA continued to endure Belgium’s attack, even overruled a Red Panther goal on a video referral, to not allow another score in the quarter.
The final frame resumed with Belgium still on the front foot. The Red Panthers converted off a penalty corner in the 52nd minute when Louise Versavel buried a drag into the right corner. USA maintained Belgium’s attack for the remainder of the game, denying two penalty corner chances with Cassie Sumfest (Lewisburg, Pa.) making a save off the line on one of them. The Red Panthers won the match 3-0.
Following the game, Belgium’s Ambre Ballenghien was named Player of the Match.
“I think in these eight matches we took a lot of steps forward,” said Hoffman, following the game. “There is still so much that we need to learn and grow on. In these two matches I think we would have liked to see us get a lot more circle penetrations, outcomes but we will take that forward and keep pushing.”
The U.S. Women’s National Team close the 2021-22 FIH Hockey Pro League season finishing in ninth. For more information, visit the FIH Hockey Pro League Event Page.
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