USA Takes It to Australia

Aug. 22, 2017, 2:14 p.m. (ET)

The USA Women’s National Team (WNT) today matched up with their first national team opponent in the 2017 Busan International Friendly Tournament, the nation’s great ally, Australia.  No matter the sport, the Aussies and the Americans are always amongst the friendliest and warmest rivals.  The athletes just naturally get along and quickly develop a mutual fondness.  On the court however, the athletes from these two countries can be fierce.

The WNT had played strong matches against two Division One clubs and another strong game against a Division Two club from Denmark.  The Americans were without a victory so far in the tournament and they were absolutely focused on changing that against the Aussies.

The WNT opened strongly against Australia with scoring coming from Zoe Lombard, Kathy Darling, and Jence Rhoads.  As the Americans demonstrated discipline and commitment on defense, they created the opportunity for an effective transition game.  Jennifer Fithian scored on a breakaway, as did Rhoads.  Ashley Butler then got onto the scoring sheet followed by Rhoads again. 

Every time down the court, Australia was kept high by the Americans.  When the Aussies tried to penetrate, the WNT stopped them up near the 9-meter line.  On those occasions when there was a scoring opportunity, rookie goal keeper Sanna Wheeler was a wall.  It was if nothing would get by her.  Once again, the WNT defense was worthy of commendation.  The interior play kept the Australian attackers from mounting any real strong and consistent threat.

Liz Hartnett scored and in short order Butler followed, as did Lombard once again.  Shani Levinkind closed out the scoring on a last second 7-meter shot and the Americans closed the half out with a 11-2 lead.

In the second half, the WNT opened with real firepower on display.  Lombard scored followed by Darling and Julia Taylor.  Lombard scored again followed by a nice rebound tip-in by Sarah Gascon.  Moments later Gascon scored again on a rebound of her 7-meter shot that clanged off the iron.  The Americans were on a roll and the Aussies looked overmatched. 

Van Ryn scored as the lineup turned over and the Aussie offense came to life and they started scoring.  However, the American offense was in high gear.  Even with the Aussies scoring, the WNT was unstoppable.  Lombard scored as did Hartnett, followed by Van Ryn again.  The flood gates opened as the defense went to work to slow the Aussies and the resulting stops and steals lead to several fast break goals.  Rhoads scored, Darling rang up a 7-meter shot, Lisa Dunn scored, Butler hit the back of the net followed by Lombard and Butler again to close it out.

In the end, the WNT was on their game both offensively and defensively.  The Aussies were overmatched today but looked like their usual fearless selves.  Next up for Team USA is the national team from Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) to close out the tournament.